Barry Adamson, baritone booming bass player with Magazine has a terrific back catalogue of albums released under his own name. Successfully walking the tightrope that straddles imagined film noir soundtracks on the one side with spoken word, sample-packed beat happenings on the other, they’re the sort of albums that would and should (and maybe even have) appeared on those Mercury lists every September. Perfect for late night/early morning listening, hip to the jive advertisers and marketers have used his music to great effect over the past 15 or so years.
For me, the jewel in a particularly shining crown is 1996’s Oedipus Schmoedipus, an excellent assortment of Tom Waits-ish gravelly Gauloises rumbles, Massive Attack samples and other borrowed jazzy interludes that might’ve fallen into the ‘trip-hop’ pigeonhole all those years ago, Miles Davis covers and big, fat, beat-driven affairs that swing like the John Barry 7 on steroids. There are a number of stellar contributions from a just-famous Jarvis Cocker, an almost dead Billy MacKenzie and Adamson’s old band mate from Bad Seeds days, the perennial Nick Cave.
Gliding by on a rush of gospel hysterics, jigsawed-together old soul records and whispered Cocker vocals, the Jarvis contribution (above) isn’t particularly Pulpish, but with its talk of damp beds and asthma inhalers and the suggestion of afternoon you-know-what bubbling under the surface, the lyrics certainly are. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis indeed. Equally superb, but poles apart in terms of sound, the Billy MacKenzie track, Achieved In The Valley Of The Dolls places Mackenzie’s high falsetto alongside twanging guitars, bubbling synths and none-more-90s-drums, creating a highly polished piece of slick AOR pop.
Without being glib or anything, the Nick Cave track sounds well, just like Nick Cave. Fine if you like that kind of thing, although to be honest, Nick Cave has never really been my kind of thing. I know, I know, shoot me…..Here‘s the Massive Attack-sampling Something Wicked This way Comes instead.
Barry’s best remains his re-interpretation of the Bond theme. From 1992’s Soul Murder LP, 007, A Phantasy Bond Theme alternates between skanking blue-beat rhythms, twanging Bond guitars, Jamaican spoken word patois and a brassy, swingin’ big band. How that idea ever formed in Adamson’s head we’ll never know, but somehow he managed to create an absolute belter of a record. If you only download one thing this week….etc, etc….
No excuse required really, but here‘s Magazine’s debut single Shot By Both Sides. Written by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto and featuring a terrific lead guitar riff. But you knew that already….