Fashion

Okay, you can expect oodles of Fruits de Mer releases to feature here in the coming days with outings for Jack Ellister, Michael Padilla and a quite frankly colossal full length from the Chemistry Set. For now though it’s the turn of the now seasonal year end subscriber freebie release, though for reasons not quite explained, perhaps set to coincide with Mr Jones’ birthday, this particular release will arrive on welcoming doormats across the land sometime early January rather than before the silly season celebrations. A tribute no less to David Bowie, ‘Fashion’ is as you’d no doubt gather finds the Thin White Duke’s earlier catalogue rummaged and rifled through and given the typically freaked and flowery Fruits de Mer make over by a gathering assortment the of the labels A listers along with a few hazily dazed debutants. Seems a little fitting to have this serenading our listening space given we happened across and picked up a copy of the Deram set ‘David Bowie’ – a double disc set superbly packaged and featuring both mono and stereo versions of such gems as ‘love you till Tuesday’ and ‘maids of bond street’ both I regret to find amiss here as is ‘please mr.gravedigger’. Still be honest is it really possible to score the definitive Bowie compilation in 15 cuts without the cries but what about this, that and whatever. Of particular note here,  ‘Heroes’ centres on Bowie’s most fertile and creative era, the most recent cover originally out in 1980 – that being ‘fashion’ – is as late as the Fruit de Mer sphere of influence strays which is just as well given the 80’s were unforgettable (which can I go on record here in saying not because of Tin Machine whose concept I quite admired) and well the 90’s, for all your attempts to convince me otherwise, be truthful, all the best moments, and I’ll agree there were a few eyebrow raisers, could in truth be fitted on one CD – single mind – while as to the 00’s Mr Bowie’s has seen fit to withdraw quietly from music only to occasionally brush past by way of a fleeting touching base appearance. ‘Heroes’ opens in fine style with a cover of a rare old flip cut from his ‘do anything you say’ sortie from the mid 60’s, left in the hands of the Past Tense ‘good morning girl’ shapes up to being a modd’d out nuggets shimmer toned and suited and booted in a hip wiggling garage soul beat all snazzily grooved in a key kissed funkiness. New recruits to the Fruits de Mer family, the Noman might, one would happily suspect, have something of a fondness for the Fall which certainly oozes through their cleverly deconstructed take on ‘the gospel according to Tony Day’ – a lost flip cut tucked away on the reverse of the gnome record and here re-imagined as a mooching worse for wear after hours face off between boy Smthy and Half Man Half Biscuit. Now I’ll be truthful in owning up to the fact that we’ve nearly worn the part of the CD clean through where Sidewalk Society’s superbly up to mark and spanking take on ‘can’t help thinking about me’ sits, a dandified slab of swaggering Who-fied sneering aloofness. Much like her last appearance on one of these FdM compilations, was it that excellent Pink Floyd gathering, Ilona V ghosts in with a beautifully spectral retelling, this time of asking it’s of Bowie’s distant and thoughtful Drake-esque ‘tired of my life’, this dreamy porcelain psych portrayal falling somewhere between the cracks separating Broadcast and Dean and Britta. And apologies are overdue to Cary Grace whose recent album is burning holes in our psyche, words are coming I assure you, for now though this quite pickled progressive psyched slice of mind expanding freak beat eccentricity on their cover of ‘black country rock which admittedly retains the originals Zep adored nods and rephrases them through the head tripping cosmic viewfinders of Van der Graaf Generator and the mighty Crimson. Can’t recall whether this is the debuting, or at the very least, second appearance of Mooch on the esteemed FdM catalogue, but ‘Andy Warhol’ is faithfully framed and given the kind of woozy and ethereal ghost like acid  folk treatment that one might expect to be applied by Crystal Jacqueline – I’m suspecting the result of which we need to hear more – and soon. Seems only fitting that one of Bowie’s more off centred and surreally hip trippy moments should find its crookedly kooky path admirably navigated by chief alchemist of the fried Moredecai Smyth whose fanciful fuzz trimmed fairytale pastoral pruning of ‘kooks’ chirps distractively dizzily as though the result of an off guard studio soiree between Marc Bolan and the Syd.  On a personal level I’ve a soft spot for ‘life on mars’ which counting aside various record buying purchases as a junior that included Pinky and Perky, various TV21 EP’s particular attention paid to anything Captain Scarlet related and the ‘paint your wagon’ OST  has always held a secret spot in our hearts due to the fact it was the first ‘proper’ record we ever bought, the covering of which is a mammoth task to even first consider let alone have the brass balls to actually commit to. Happily Sheepshanks do it admirable service, okay they may lack the svelte pop gravitas of the original, but ethereal chorals and the fact that they impishly apply a redux quality that’s akin to a kind of like musical version of the reduced Shakespeare company means not only do they manage to avoid going all Queen and ELO but that, with some aplomb, they manage to lasso it from the celestials and tie it to a more earthbound mooring. Again another ‘well I’ll think I’ll give that a miss’ fraught with hazardous dangers is any attempt to manoeuvre around ‘drive-in Saturday’ which call him foolhardy Jack Ellister commits himself the task of scaling the result of which he hooks the blighter up to a passing star and takes it on a astral dream voyage of pure cosmic cool. There’s something decidedly decadent and vaguely damaged about ZX+’s all too brief though unravelling visiting upon ‘breaking glass’, that as it flashes from moments of fuzzing funkiness to unhinged isolationism in the blink of an eye, a previously unseen dark side to their persona is revealed. One of those forgotten tracks over on the better side of ‘heroes’ which I always felt got smothered in the vapour trail of ‘V-2 schneider’, ‘sense of doubt’ is here realised of its amorphous ambient beauty by Rob Gould who affords it a stately almost reverential glacial majesty that literally catches you frozen and adoring in its tractor beam like vision. Almost forgot about ‘african night flight’ one of many sore thumbs to be found loitering in the backwaters of ‘lodger’ here removed of its ad hoc time signature crookedness and angular tribal patterning and stripped bare, rebuilt and superbly fashioned into a kind of warping Elephant 6 Collective stew as though an alt pop studio happening drawn from a mind meeting experience of they might be giants and Of Montreal types, seriously even the most die-hard Bowie enthusiast will take a side glance or three trying to spot its original template, oh incidentally before we forget its by the Seventh Ring of Saturn and features some nifty arabesque mosaics. Another ensemble much admired around these here parts and playing a spot of name that tune are blue giant zeta puppies whose totally wigged out retooling of ‘Fashion’ is frankly off the radar and here sent out of orbit on what can only be described as a sun spotting slab of twang toned Trashmen-esque cosmic garage grooviness which ought to cover matters in which case if it doesn’t you can add at will Meek, Man or Astro Man, freakish and fuzzy into your own review rewrite. Best moment of the set – and in truth this was a struggle trying to choose between such a formidable showing was in the end thrown over to Consterdine’s twinklesome refashioning of ‘sound and vision’, initially starts with what sounds like the click and turn of a pinball game before the emerging of a celestial carousel veers into view, all promenade pirouettes and lunar music hall murmurs all playfully dressed in sepia twists and sounding to these ears not unlike a snow tipped ISAN culturing sleepy headed snoozing recitals for the Clangers – a cosy toed dainty lullaby then. Sendelica Acoustica round up matters with a track we’ve mentioned previously in these pages, the acoustica variant of the bands hive  operation finds them somewhat removed of their mind frying tendencies and one suspects affirming our belief that these are Wales’ hydra headed answer to the Acid Mothers, here in sedate mood serving up a slice  of wood crafted folk wooziness whilst applying sumptuously a mellow candle like woven tapestry to ‘ziggy stardust’.  

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