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  1. I bought this album on the same day in 1979 as I bought the debut album by Yachts. One of them I was planning to buy and knew what they sounded like, the other I was encouraged to get by a mate (whose name has been lost to the mists of time). They are both great (we’ll get to the 2 Yachts albums waaay down the line) and if it was my forgotten mate who advised me to buy this one, whoever you were, I thank you.

    From the off it struck me as sounding like music from another planet (Claire ?) or at least the soundtrack of a bizarre low budget 60’s sci-fi movie. As “Planet Claire” fades in we are greeted with eerie, high pitched girls voices sounding like they came direct from the sound effects department at Star Trek HQ. Then “singer” (I use the term loosely, he’s more of a fairground barker) Fred Schneider starts ranting at you about a girl from another planet who has pink hair but possibly no head. None of this was normal to me back in ’79.

    They didn’t have a bass player, Kate Pierson played bass parts on a keyboard, and guitarist Ricky Wilson and drummer Keith Strickland smashed out mutant dance rhythms that were odd but oddly compelling. Kate and Cindy Wilson take over vocal duties on “52 Girls” and Fred gets back to haranguing you on “Dance This Mess Around”.

    Side 1 then draws to a close with what is, to these ears and feet, one of the greatest dance songs ever written and likely The B-52’s high point, “Rock Lobster”. Many will counter that because it was a worldwide hit and more people know it that The B-52’s greatest moment was “Love Shack”. Now, as great as that is and as easily as it can fill a dance floor at any hen party in the land it pales into insignificance when compared to “Rock Lobster”. Close your eyes while it’s on and you can see one of those Technicolour Teen movies going on, set on a beach somewhere in California or the Carolinas, girls in bikinis, boys with surfboards, everybody’s rockin’, everybody’s fruggin’, pass the tanning butter. It’s brilliant in its imagery and its ability to get your hips moving.

    Side 2 carries on in much the same vein, they don’t stray far from what they’re good at. Fred gets positively apoplectic on”6060-842” and Kate and Cindy close things out with a somewhat subdued take on Petula Clark’s hit “Downtown”. The B-52’s would go on to sell millions of records and have huge international hits but I’m not sure they ever quite hit the heights they reached on this album.

    Rock Lobster - https://youtu.be/2uH5AhFh8UI

    (PS…the original UK release of this album came in a yellow B-52’s carrier bag (mine disintegrated long ago, maybe it was biodegradable ?) and included a facsimile copy 7” of the original single of “Rock Lobster”. For the purposes of what I wrote above however we are talking about the re-recorded album version of the song)

  2. There are a couple of reasons I added this to my collection chief among them being my good friend Nick Raybould is the drummer on much of it oh, and it’s on lovely green vinyl and I’m a sucker for coloured vinyl. 

    Artifacts & Uranium are a side collaboration between Fred Laird (Earthing Society, Tara Bulba, Empty House) and Mike Vest (Bong, Lush Worker, 11Paranoias, mienakunaru). If you like Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel and similar classic Krautrick I suspect, like me, that you’ll dig this. 

    Side 1 is the more out there experimental Tempel-y sounding side whereas Side 2 falls more into the Neu!-ish melodic, motorik style. You can listen to the whole album online at https://echodelickrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pancosmology . If I had to pick one track for you to try it would be “Radio Wolfen”

  3. Now this is where I first encounter Amsterdam and Ian Prowse. They had been booked as the opening band on The Wonder Stuff’s tour in March of 2005. We were quite excited about this gig as our friend Luke Johnson was in town and we hadn’t seen him in a while. Turns out there was a problem for Amsterdam as their drummer likely wasn’t going to make the start of the show. Their Roadie was going to sit in on a few songs but couldn’t do everything. Luke, who BTW is a phenomenal drummer, agreed to sit in with them. So my first sighting of this band my brother had been raving about was them walking out at Wolverhampton Civic Hall with a drummer they’d never played with. The first song they launched into was the title track from this album, “The Journey”, and they fair blew the roof off the place. I remember thinking it was the “Mod-est” thing I’d heard in ages.

    “Attitunes” had been released via a very small independent (privately ?) but with “The Journey” they had the backing of a label. As we mentioned earlier we’d meet some “Attitunes” songs again and “Taking On The World”, “Nostalgia”, “Love Phenomenon” and You’re A Phoney” all make their 2nd appearance here. We must also make special mention of “The Glorious Day”, as great a song as it is, it owes a huge debt to Billy Bragg, recycling indeed.

    “The Journey” is packed full of winners. WE already encountered the title track, then there is “Joe’s Kiss”, a beautiful tribute to Joe Strummer. But what cannot be ignored is that there is one song here that towers over everything else, towers over Ian Prowse’ whole output, it will likely be the song that defines Ian Prowse full stop and I’m sure he has absolutely no problem with that. 

    “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside ?” is, at its heart, a hymn to the city of Liverpool, it’s an incredible song, one for the ages. It could reportedly bring a tear to the eye of the great John Peel whenever he heard it. It doesn’t pull any punches, it covers the good (the poets and the music along Mathew Street and the quirks of the city) and the dark side (the slave ships, Hillsborough, James Bulger) of Liverpool but there is a love and a pride in his city that shines through it all. No Prowsey gig is complete until we’ve all communed along to “…Merseyside…”.

    Does This Train Stop On Merseyside ? - https://youtu.be/z6GK4vUtqCQ