Review : Spectrum – “War Sucks” ep.

This is the sort of release that really challenges the critic.  What to say?  Back to first principles as we say in the day job…

(1) Are you familiar with the work of Spacemen 3 and the two core members, Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce? Yes – go to (2).  No – go to (3)

(2) Do you like Spacemen 3 and in particular Sonic Boom’s influence on the band?  Yes – go to (4).   No – go to (5)

(3) Where on earth have you been?  Buy the second album “The Perfect Prescription” and “Translucent Flashbacks” (a compilation of the first two Spacemen 3 eps).  If you don’t like those go to (5).  If you do work through the rest of the Spacemen 3 catalogue, I suggest in roughly this order – “Playing With Fire”, “Sound Of Confusion”, “Dreamweapon”, “Recurring”, “For All The Fucked Up Children In The World We Give You Spacemen 3”.  If you’re still with me move onto Sonic Boom’s solo work and work with Spectrum (go to (4)). If you like the second half of “Recurring” move on to Spiritualized (tempted to say go to (5) but that is a bit harsh on poor old Jason, who had all the musical talent but none of the magic).

(4) Spectrum – “War Sucks” ep.  This is the second time Sonic Boom has covered a song from The Red Krayola’s 1967 album “The Parable of Arable Land”, after Spacemen 3’s version of “Transparent Radiation” which was, in my opinion, one of the finest Spacemen 3 songs.   “The Parable of Arable Land” is a pretty good album (almost) ruined by horrendous ‘free-form freakouts’ between each song.  There are many reasons to love the sixties, but any decade that results in musicians employing 50 of their fans, calling them “The Familiar Ugly” and getting them to make random noises using both musical instruments and household implements to use as segments between songs clearly wasn’t all that.

And how fucking depressing is it that some old hippy, anti-war, nonsense from the 60s is relevant and vital today as it was back then? The only consolation is at least that Tony Blair has given us a damn perfect reason to hate him, so I don’t have to come across as unreasonable saying I just hate his smug, bible bashing, self-serving, smug, conceited, cunty, smug, twatty smug-face.

Anyway.  “War Sucks” is the kinda garagey, poppy, psychedelicacy that Sonic Boom does so well. It would undoubtedly be harsh to say it’s one for the completists, but let’s be frank, not everyone is a total Sonic Boom obsessive like me.  8/10.  “Razzle-Dazzle Mind” is much more in a Stereolab vein – relentless and almost certainly one that will become a live favourite.  On record 6.5/10, but I gotta felling it’ll be an 8.5 on stage.  “Walking and Falling” is not a song (spoken word track in its original form, but with music on this ep) that I am familiar with.  Apparently it’s a Laurie Anderson cover.   Fucking chilled out shit of the highest order.  Very few guitar bands can get this laid back, and it segues into “Over and Over” which doesn’t get any less horizontal.

(5) You, my good sir (or madam), are a cloth-eared fool.

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