The ISMO CD Reviews Archive

***** Fuck-off Brilliant
**** Pretty damn Good
*** Average but no Cigar, Mr President
** Could do better
* Shite

Elton Dean, Mark Sanders and Roberto Bellatalla
Into the Nierika

(Blueprint 292CD) 19 Oct 98.


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What happens when you take an ex member of Soft Machine and put him into the studio with two muso types that you have never heard of? The answer is simple. They make an unholy row! By the way, three decades or more ago Elton Dean was playing in a third rate band called Bluesolology with a keyboard player called Reg who stole Dean's christian name and went on to make a twat of himself at a royal funeral! Atilla the Hen

To Live For To Die

(ex-bootleg ‘The Honest One’)
POINT PNTVP 108CD. Review date: 4 Oct 98

* (unless you're a Man fan)

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Unfamiliar with these drug-addled Welsh prog-rockers? Then don’t let this be the first Man CD you buy - forget it and skip on to the next review!


Right then, just between us Man fans: if it wasn’t for the poor sound, I’d give this 1970 live ex-bootleg album 5 stars. In a piece of understatement worthy of a high-ranking politician, the CD cover warns of ‘occasional sound discoloration’. What this actually means is general sound distortion, severe in places, and virtually inaudible vocals. The latter doesn’t matter much actually, as most of the tracks are instrumentals (or mainly so) - only ‘Daughter of the Fireplace’, being pretty vocals-driven, suffers badly.

Otherwise, this album is listenable - especially if you have a few beers and just accept that it’s a bootleg. Okay, the mix is thoroughly skewed, and the Hammond organ does overpeak and ‘snag’ at times, but anyone who gets off on ‘Spunk Rock’ on the ‘Greasy Truckers Party’ album (1972) or likes ‘Live at Penarth’ shouldn’t have too many problems. The guitars and rhythm section on, say, ‘Spunk Rock’ (here called ‘Spunk Box’) work pretty well, overall. And of particular historical interest to Man fans is the 19-minute ‘Scholar of Consciousness’ - a precursor to what became one of Man’s most famous tracks, ‘Many are Called...’. Overall, a fascinating snapshot of a very early stage of Man’s development and recommended only for the hard-core Man / prog-rock fan... - Slutto.

Repetitive, dull, irritating garbage. - Siggsworthy Crags

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Nicole Ray
Make it Hot

GOLDMINE 7559-62209-2. Review date: 2 Nov 98.

* (and that begrudgingly)

I once spent 8 hours squatting on an overcrowded train stuck in a flash flood. I once spent 14 hours in an Egyptian airport en route to Kenya. Both of these experiences were a wild extravaganza of excitement compared to this album. In fact it's hard to think of any thing to say about this record: it's so goddamn DULL !

All the tracks seem to run into one awful grey morass of concentrated blandness. The lyrics are unimaginative and eminently forgettable and all the songs sound the same. Nicole Ray redefines the word boring. Voted the winner of the international Dull as Ditch-water award 1998. Avoid like the plague. - Siggsworthy Craggs

Restful and gentle soul: I took it home to review, and fell asleep. Mind you, I did have a bloody hangover. So that's a recommendation of sorts... - Slutto

Cordelia's Dad

Appleseed APR 1023. Review date: 2 Nov 98.


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When asked to think of the U.S.A. one would naturally have visions of skyscrapers and cities or cactus-strewn deserts. It's not easy therefore to imagine American folk music, this band not only blow away such preconceptions, they stuff a lighted 'ACME' dynamite stick up its arse and retreat to a safe distance, sniggering.

This is the stuff of rural America, a side to the U.S. Europeans too readily forget. This wonderful music comes coiling from the moonbathed Appalachian mountains and the wind tossed Pine barrens. It's not for the overly sentimental with songs about mass deaths in mill fires and murderers (quite why folkies are such a grim lot I've never found out but being a Goth it don’t bother me none!)

These guys are like Steeleye Span at their darkest and transplanted to America's east coast. To sum up - if this band were a writer they would be Edgar Allen Poe on a holiday in the country! Great stuff. - Siggsworthy Craggs

Captain Sensible
Revolution Now

Blueprint BP293 CD


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Ray Burns is Back..... the one time bass player of The Damned has come up with yet another album. Thankfully for those of us who still claim to be veterans of the punk wars of 1976/7 and more significantly the music which the good old Cap'n made for CRASS records in about 1981 he has moved away from the twee show tunes and silliness towards a much meatier and more satisfying direction. The cover even looks like the CRASS records layout but the music herein is less spiky and somewhat more accesible.

The music? Well it is a mishmash of punky and modern psychedelic cliches shoved together into a broadly entertaining whole. It ain't gonna make any new fans for the old bugger but it will keep the old ones happy for a time.... Atilla the Hen

Soul Coughing
El Oso

London 556 049-2 **

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On first hearing this album I wondered what all the cuffuffle was about, having heard great things spoken of them. I was hghly disappointed on first listening to them.This is a band that is not instantly likeable. It does however improve upon relistening (I am mortified to admit I didn’t like the unspeakably brilliant Joy Division when I first heard them!?!?! - not that I am comparing these third-raters with Manchester’s greatest sons). This band are still a disappointment but not quite as bad as I had first thought. It’s a veriable album, 'Misinformed' being the best track, sounding somewhat like the Bash Street Kids let loose in a junkyard! - Siggsworthy Craggs
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Citrus Bitumen

Ferric Mordant Fe4. Review date: 4 Nov 98


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No messing about with poncey intros: this band get stuck in straight away. Fast music is coupled with fairly laid back vocals (most of the time). Some of the songs tend to sound a bit samey but not to the extent of becoming boring.This album will probably appeal to the younger student set but is not this old goth’s cup of tea. By the same token it’s not a bad record if you like that sort of thing. I might see them if they played a local pub (if it was free). - Siggsworthy Craggs

Captain Sensible
The Universe of Geoffrey Brown

(Blueprint BP294CD) *****

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Trippier, sillier and with far more balls than 'Revolution Now', this is more like it!!! Quite posibly the best thing that I, for one, have ever heard from this particular artiste. The songs are interespersed with strange excerpts from what appears to be a radio play about two ordinary blokes intercepting radio signals from outer space. I haven`t yet sussed whether it is a bona fide concept album or not but who cares when it sounds as good as this? Atilla the Hen

FEEDBACK: 70's grunge lives on with the wonderful fuzzed guitar on this one! The 'radio play' bits don't stand up to repeated listening, though. Once you've heard them 10 times, they get a bit boring, I reckon. - Bondi (Newcastle)

Spin Doctors
You've got to believe in something

EPIC 483817 2. Review date: 24 Oct 98.

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This is dull, but seriously competent AOR with mildly acoustic overtones. If you`re interested (and you probably ain`t) the album includes the music used for the theme song to the latest series of the Channel 4 series Spin City (which is also probably the only popular TV programme on British TV to include a brief three second shot of a dog having a shit in the title sequence. It kind of sums up this album really. Mr Slutto describes it as "Competent Wallpaper Music" but then he says that about a lot of things. This is either because there is a hell of a lot of competent wallpaper music around at the moment or because he is an intolerant little fellow, but the jury is still out on that one. At least we both like the Captain Sensible Album!!! Atilla the Hen

John Martyn
Live at Bristol 1991 - Official Bootleg

Oneworld OW1006CD


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Limited Collector's Edition? Yeah Right! I've done that before when I know that I`m gonna need whatever help I can to shift a piece of seriously dodgy product. John Martyn had his day and that day was well over twenty years ago. Although I am not particularly enamoured of ANY of his stuff, the early albums with Danny Thompson did have the benefit of being somewhat innovative and ever so slightly groovy. Since he began making shite AOR and sounding like a poor man's Phil Collins his records have been absolutely awful and his career has gone down the can at a rate of knots. I saw him on this tour in Milton Keynes. I was drunk and insulted him, drunkenly claiming that he was a vampire as well as being monumentally tasteless! Do I want a souvenir of one of the most lacklustre performances that I have ever seen from a name artiste? Do I fuck! Atilla The Hen

Various Artists
Circus Days - Psychedelic Obscurities



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I think that it was Oscar Wilde who said that England and America were two countries divided by a common language. This album is a fine example of that. UK psychedelia is usually long riffy stuff with whooshing noises and pointless lyrics about being the master of this or an alternate universe. American psychedelia, especially during the mid-1960s was a completely different bucket of mushrooms. This CD is chock full of wonderful vignettes of poppy sillyness including brass bands, flutes, bird noises and everyone going to San Fransisco with tons of flowers in their collective cranial tegument. Atilla the Hen

Nick Harper

(Quixotic QR098CD)


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Roy Harper's son has made several albums that sound roughly what you would expect - much like his old man but with far more accomplished guitar playing. This album is somewhat of a departure. The folky riffs and post hippy obsessions have been replaced with a surprisingly poppy sound which has done his music great favours. This is by far the most accesible thing that he has ever done, and proves that as well as being an undoubted chip off the old block he is now firmly forgeing his way into a direction of his own. I can recommend this album wholeheartedly and I hope that people go out and buy it by the bucketload because it certainly deserves it! Atilla the Hen


(A&M 540 9632-2. Double CD)


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Gangsta Rap: this one is good music to mug people to, I guess. - Slutto.

Yo muvvafukka - diss the homey's in the hood- yeah. Respect. - Atilla the Hen.

Yo: String. Training board. Monkey shin. Boys in the grow-bag. - Sigsworthy-Crags.

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Glamourous Hooligan
Naked City Soundtrax

(GH 3984 24201 2). Review date: 19 Oct 98.


Dull techno bollocks consisting of a load of silly electronic noises with some bloke murmuring inanities, or occasionally rapping about inner city boredom in a disinterested voice. I have no idea what the appeal of an album like this is. It doesn`t go anywhere and it doesn`t have anything to say for itself. Mr Slutto says that it sounds like a stoned version of the vocals on the notorious Peter Wyngarde album but with even less entertainment value. It is hard not to agree with him! Atilla the Hen

FEEDBACK: I disagree totally with your review! Just cos you don't like techno is no reason to slag off a techno album... It's sombre and moody, yeah. And I like it! (Lisa, Edinburgh)

Jimmy 'Bo' Horne
Gimme Some

(Westside WESM 550)


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I really like this album of late 1970`s Philedelphia funk from a label who should be congratulated for having brought so much obscure music from these times and this place into the public domain. This is particularly good, and although I hated this stuff at the time (being much more into grungy guitars and spikey hair) these slabs of eminently danceable R&B/Funk have lasted the pace far better than the punk music that I actually was listening to at the time. Funny old world innit? Atilla the Hen
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Deke Leonard
Before Your Very Eyes

(PNT PNTVF114CD). Review date: 19 Oct 98


Old prog rockers never die, they just end up sounding like Chas 'n' Dave This album from one time Man stalwart (who has after all been responsible for some quite good solo stuff (most noteably with his band Iceberg ) in the past sounds like nothing more than a third-rate mish mash of R&R cliches in the vein of Status Quo or the aforementioned Chas 'n' Dave . This album sucks. Avoid it at all costs unless you happen to be the owner of the second hand shop to which I shall be taking this hunk of shit in the very near future!


(NUDE 1cd) Review date: 26 Oct 98

cd cover: two girls snuggling a bit
I think that it was a bad idea to call your band Mainstream even though that is a perfect encapsulation of the music that you make. Why NUDE recoprds who have given us such wonderful bands as Suede and Geneva have bothered with this rather uninspiring indie band whose only saving graces are the brass section (and according to Sigsworthy Crags three girls on the cover who made him want to masturbate wildly I dunno. Neither can make up for the lack of memorable songs. It`s been well over half a decade since the Happy Mondays and someone ought to tell this band that! Atilla the Hen

Pip Pyle
7 Year Itch

(Voiceprint VP 198CD). 19 Oct 98.


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I was really looking forward to this album from original Gong drummer Pyle. I shouldn`t have bothered - it is a collection of horrid MOR by someone who really should have known better! It even contains a lacklustre version of a Beatles song done so badly that it sounds like the house band at a Traveller`s Rest somewhere up the M6.

Various Artists
Canterburied Sounds

(Voiceprint VP 201CD)


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It is practically impossible to review an album like this. From a musical point of view it is unremarkable and as far as sound quality is concerned it is on a par with the worst bootleg that you have ever heard. however from a historical point of view, this collection of tracks by bands such as The Wilde Flowers and other stalwarts of the scene which was eventually to produce Gong and the Soft Machine and indirectly a whole host of others is indispensible. It is an album that should be in the collection of any serious student of the jazzier end of British proggy music but it is not one for the casual buyer! Atilla the Hen

Various Artists



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The seminal compilation Nuggets brought together large numbers of obscure US garage bands who would otherwise never have been heard outside their home town. This is the latest in a long line of singles that have done exactly the same thing - and the wonderful thing about it is that the vein of material that they are mining seems to be limitless .The afficianados will go on about bands like The Barbarians et al but the truth is that these better-known garage bands are neither better nor worse than the completely obscure offerings contained here. There seemed to be hundreds if not thousands of bands in the US during the 1960`s who all wanted to be either the Rolling Stones or The Kinks. Of course, none of them were, but who cares? Enjoy! Atilla the Hen