The Onion King Years
Lazing in the shade of a parasol we here at the losing today patio salad bar come natural tanning studio have spent moments of the day idly succumbing to the sparsely wound sound shapes of the much admired St Helens based lysergic tipped beat pop combo the Bordellos.
There are, we believe, only 4 copies in existence of this little curio, which given I have one of them now means your chances of copping one for yourself is now down to three. How do we get one of these ultra rare aural artefacts I hear you enquire – (see I know these things as I read minds at great distances – so Johnny S over in Tunbridge Wells stop what your thinking right now it’ll make you go blind or at the very least leave you with a permanent squint). Well young folk of an enquiring disposition you can grab yourself a copy of said rarity by entering a FAB (highlighted in bold to add dramatic effect) competition being hosted by the band, (kinda reminds you of those super duper days of memory fading Radio 1 extravaganzas where you could win signed photos of Dave Lee Travis and a chance to bag yourself a package of goodies assembled by the fair hand of a certain John Peel who would often go on to ruin the experience by forgetting to post the blighter and after several disgruntled complaints from train spotting tank top wearers living in a pickle jar somewhere in Anglia would see fit to put the blame squarely at the toes of a hapless producer). Alas no fanfare or more importantly some impromptu advertisement for said Radio 1 competition featuring an over excitable Tony Blackburn with which to ruin your illegal taping of the day’s chart bound sound.
Sorry we appear to have lost the thread somewhat. Where were we – ah yes – the Bordellos. Okay so in short rare as hen’s teeth pressing entitled ’the Onion King Years’ – a title I should add we have no idea to the meaning of (bet its something cryptic or as is always the case – plaintively obvious – update – we‘ve just been told it was the bands original name – as in the Onion King), comprised of 16 tracks all previously unreleased in this guise (four track recordings) and featuring a couple of cuts that by our reckoning haven’t as yet to date appeared in the light of day to adorn vinyl grooves. In short your hi-fi wants one, needs one and deserves one.
Currently busy tinkering away and putting the finishing touches to their ‘debt sounds’ set which based on sneak
teasers found flirting about their my space players (www.myspace.com/the bordellos and http://www.myspace.com/welshcakerecords) is proving to be something of a much anticipated release in our gaff, the band have to date released two full lengths in the guise of ‘meet the bordellos’ and ‘songs for swinging stalkers’ plus an additional unreleased outing for the house of the rising sin imprint. Goes without saying that they are much admired around this here parish as to by a certain Julian Cope via his observant Head Heritage transmissions.
There’s something to be said about the purity and nakedness afforded by these sparsely conceived four track recordings in so far as the way they capture and retain every little falter, crackle, emotional turn of phrase and ultimately the intimacy of each and every cut, it’s the same skeletal approach that the band have seen fit to revert back to on their aforementioned forthcoming platter. If I’m objective and honest I’d have to say that the Bordellos achieve a more psyched out dynamic when stripped to the core. Reference markers are easy – there’s no doubting the dues owed to the likes of Barrett, Love’s Arthur Lee (which brings them into parallel with Robyn Hitchcock / Soft Boys but stripped of the underlying Beatles infatuations) and the Velvets (none more so is this the proven case than on the brittle strummed Lou Reed dialects of ’poet or a liar’ or the psychosis rearing ‘these boots are made for stalking‘ – the latter alone worthy of immediate attention just to hear the unravelling vocals at the close). But then scratch a little deeper and what you’ll notice is that aside the obvious would be 60’s lysergic kinship and acutely crafted wherewithal for knocking out a shimmering shades adorned treats at the drop of a hat, this lot have an impish want for diluting the mix with a decidedly subtle CBGB’s inscribed new wave flavouring (the skewed ‘gift of noise’) wherein the latent essences of the Modern Lovers (the lovelorn ‘hooked’ still sounds like some recently unearthed vault dug gem like lost relic, deliciously dimpled amid a spectral casing of drifting opines and touchingly melancholic brush strokes of resigning sighs) and to a lesser though evidently present extent Television (check out the hollowed and bracingly wasted casualness of the grittily grounded power grooved ‘drunk is a state’) spike the mindset. Additional Daniel Johnston (the broken bruised beauty of ’sixteen’) and more importantly Jad Fair (the unmistaken raw lo-fi rush of Half Japanese potently at work on ‘set your heart to the sun’) are never far from the equation, while you can consider it an equally a safe bet at the drawing of loose comparisons with the likes of Magoo and more obviously the Beatnik Filmstars.
Despite suffering a tad from the sound quality which looking back in hindsight may well prove to have been done deliberately, ‘spiritual’ proves to be one of the sets highlights, a moment of introspective reflection blessed with the simplistic though admittedly effective accompaniment of some sterling Marr / Vini Reilly styled riff loops while elsewhere likewise finding itself a little battered, bruised and worse for wear is the seriously fried and schizoid off his face Dylan kookiness of ‘vicious circle’. of course ’velvet mind’ despite its primitive detail as shown here still packs enough knowing class to suggest it alone could start a musical movement. So there you have it a Bordellos write up without me ever once mentioning the Freed Unit’s ’gigglegoo’ – bugger.
Key tracks –