Reviews (Music)
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Anti-Flag - Underground Network (Fat Wreck Chord)

 

 

I thought the 2nd (Official) Anti-Flag album "New Kind Of Army" was a very strong release, and if it didn't have to follow such a classic as "Die For The Government" it would have been touted as an extraordinary achievement. Would they run out of steam on the 3rd album and first for FAT? - not at all, if anything it is stronger than "New Kind of Army". My picks are the amazing 'rage rock' tinted "Culture Revolution" (I think they wrote that right after they came off tour with Rage against the Machine, but fear not, it's still very much Anti-Flag), and "Spaz's House Destruction Party" which despite what most people think prove they don't always take themselves seriously.
-- Nicky Garratt - March, 2002

 

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Curly's Airships - Judge Smith

 

 

This curious project sounded intriguing. I was already a fan of early Van der Graaf Generator particularly the seminal "Pawn Hearts" LP including the atmospheric song chronicle "Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". Likewise Peter Hammil's very personal solo album "Over" was an essential landmark at the close of an extraordinary innovative period of British music. At the core of "Curly's Airships" are ex Van der Graaf members Peter Hammil (vocals) , Dave Jackson (sax) and Huge Banter (organ) and was written and Narrated by Judge Smith, himself a founding member of the embryonic Van der Graaf Generator. Augmenting the ensemble are veterans Arthur Brown (from the Crazy World) and Peter Brown (from the Battered Ornaments). The musicianship is beyond reproach from the marvelous use of the drums, to the outstanding performance by John Ellis (Vibrators, Strangles and Peter Gabriel). John Ellis is without doubt a master craftsman of the guitar and manages to excel without ever degenerating into self-indulgency. His crisp and precise execution plus astute perception of the spirit of Curly's Airships is the musical glue that binds this eclectic masterpiece together. Peter Hammil's distinctive voice is perfectly utilized in the roll of the arrogant Baron Thomson, and contrasts marvellously with the classic tenor as the helmsman singing a wonderfully realized sea shanty. The real star of the project though is the story as told by crewman Curly (Judge Smith). The Story of the R101 - the worlds biggest airship, and the folly that led to its demise and death of most of it's crew. The story is compelling, and Smith's lyrics absolutely draw you in. The normally boring facts become tantalize bursts of momentum in the midst of Smith's skillful narrative. Throughout he strikes the perfect balance between statistics, poetry, story development and imagery. Add to this an attention to detail, convincing placement of sound effects and dialog, an Indian music ensemble, a military brass band and you have a recording incalculable value. As yet unreleased, "Curly's Airships" is destined to become the accepted masterpiece of a prototype genre "the songstory" or a treasured oddity for discerning collectors.
-- Nicky Garratt - June 3rd 2000