Alphabetical CD Marathon: P (Part 3)

 This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This!

Released in 1989 this was the first PWEI album I bought and contains the two tracks I would have heard and danced to first in the form of the first two singles “Def. Con. One” and “Can U Dig It?” Flood (ace Depeche Mode producer) did most of the production. Let’s go track by track.

 “PWEI Is A Four Letter Word” is a quick throw away opener and yet is of interest because it finds the band referring to themselves as ‘The Incredible’ PWEI for the first time and actually manages to make something catchy out of essentially repeating the name of the band a ten times ten times ten times ten times.

By “Preaching to the Perverted” The Poppies continue to shout ‘so what?’ at people who accuse them of stealing, and steal they do – the track contains a veritable feast of samples from such acts as Ska master Prince Buster (‘don’t argue’), Eric B. & Rakim (‘kick a hole in the speaker’), much beloved Salt-N-Pepa and Public Enemy to name but a few. They also sample their previous album (from the track “Let’s Get Ugly”) and later in this album “Can U Dig It? Yes we can.

I’m pretty sure the “Astley in the Noose” that is mentioned in the glorious opening rap refers to a song by The Wonder Stuff about Rick Astley. Noise pollution and perverts are also common themes repeated across albums and they seem to gradually turn their back on the ugly and grebo themes. Some commentators will have you believe they actually invented the word ‘grebo’. I’m doubtful.

“Wise Up! Sucker” continues the ‘loves me, loves me not’ lines from “There is No Love Between Us Anymore” and some brilliant guitar riffs. Miles Hunt helps out with backing vocals and this half sung half rapped style is a great example of a well-executed and timeless PWEI track. The noises on the track are beautifully complicated and it’s probably my favourite track on the album.

“Sixteen Different Flavours of Hell” contains a sample of the previous track and is based on “She’s Surreal” from the previous album. This is something you don’t realise unless you listen to the albums back to back – part of the joy of this CD marathon I guess. The title of the track is mentioned in the lyrics “Wise Up! Sucker” and was used for a best of CD collection. Again it’s one of those short filler tracks, but it helps to give the album an overall shape.

“Inject Me” has a brilliant drum loop with big heavy speaker pumping bass nicked from a Funkadelic track and an almost inaudible line from Casablanca (obscured by the rap). There’s a reference to possessing a positronic brain which is out of Asimov’s robot sci-fi (of which I had read copious amounts prior to being delighted by hearing the reference in this track), an explicit claim to being ‘sci-fi’ and a scrambled reference to the Twilight Zone in the lyrics. This is PWEI finding a thematic niche much like Muse in relating themselves to popular science fiction concepts. There’s also a quote from a James Cagney film – White Heat which thanks to the Madonna track of the same name I had caught on TV prior to hearing the track. Again the amount of overlaid noise impressively still maintains the harmony within the cacophony.

“Can U Dig It?” is probably a lot of people’s favourites from this album and unfortunately for me it has suffered from being overplayed. It’s a bit like “Bohemian Rhapsody” in that I have to make an effort not to listen to it for a few months so when I do hear it again the experience is not jaded.

More film dialogue samples help the tune along in glorious fashion – in this case from the film The Warriors which I have seen a grand total of once but have on my Netflix list to watch again sometime soon. Black is Black provide the ‘we like to music, we like the disco sound, hey!’ chant. Yeah I’ve never heard of them either. Such eclectic sources for this stuff! Crabbie was like an early Fat Boy Slim with his sourcing of prime samples.

There’s also a brilliant riff from Faith No More which I really should have known about given how I worship the ground FNM walk on (and I call myself a PWEI fan!) from the excellent early track “We Care A Lot”. In fact it’s so obvious I’ve just hurt my forehead giving it an almighty slap.

Absolutely loved to dance to this and see how long it would take the DJ to say the immortal lines ‘can you take your drinks off the dancefloor please’. The rap is great and basically provided me with a pop culture checklist which I am still analysing to this day. For example I do indeed dig Optimus Prime and not Galvatron and I do indeed dig Marvel, DC, AC/DC, Run DMC and V for Vendetta. Again the Twilight Zone gets a mention and there’s the obvious theme tune sample in the background. I tried to dig Renegade Soundwave but the one album I got was pretty poor so I didn’t investigate them any further. It’s amazing how many of these things are still current all these years later.

“The Fuses Have Been Lit” is massively atmospheric. It sounds like a Philip K Dick audio book set to music and sounds oddly like a Depeche Mode instrumental (“Christmas Island” I think) in places – I’m thinking mainly of the electronic piano. There’s some obvious American TV and film samples which I can’t place and I can’t find them referenced on the interweb and this is where the album title comes from.

“Poison to the Mind” contains a sample from a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies TV commercial of all things (and there’s me thinking it was off the Batman TV show) and refers once again to the Incredible PWEI. There’s no singing or rapping and instead there’s a looped complaint by some Mary Whitehouse character. Some of the more obscure Carter tracks using samples are similar to this.

“Def. Con. One” includes obvious sources such as The Twilight Zone theme (again, but this time with the voiceover), “Crazy Horses” by The Osmonds, “I Wanna be your Dog” by The Stooges, “Beat Dis” by Bomb the Bass and is obviously heavily reliant on “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc. for its catchy hook. Less obvious plunderings include stuff from the work of The Beastie Boys, Run DMC (in the fading outro), Salt-N-Pepa again, The Creatures (‘right now’) and Bruce blummin’ Springsteen.

This was another must-dance-to number for the lucky boppers at the indie club. Dance or dance? It’s the only choice…

“Radio PWEI” holds the record for the number of samples (at least a dozen) in one track on this album. There’s so many it is exhausting. “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” by LL Cool J and “Shout” by Tears for Fears are in there along with the Hook and riffs from “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. There’s also bits and bobs from Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Mantronix, Public Enemy to name a few more. Again WhoSampled is an essential source.

This song and a lot of stuff on the next two albums got me thinking about the story which would eventually become “The Music” (but more about that in later posts).

“Shortwave Transmission on ‘Up to the Minuteman Nine'” has blatant sample from Genesis (from the track “Mama”) and repeats lines from the previous track plus a sample from Monty Python Series 4 in which Eric Idle delivers the line ‘offer expires while you wait’ (I know it’s series 4 because I watched it and cottoned on to the sample very recently). I’d love to know what the title means. Perhaps it’s a reference to ICBMs but I’m not convinced. Perhaps it’s referring to the title of an imaginary show on the equally imaginary Radio PWEI. Answers on a postcard please.

“Satellite Ecstatica” is a psychosexual sci-fi story with a chugging bassline and some crazy horns. Maybe the song was written after a pill/booze fuelled sexually frisky night out on Beaver Patrol.

“Not Now James, We’re Busy…”   obvious contains another garden structure’s worth of James Brown samples and is the story of the (then current) Godfather of Soul’s altercations with the state police following some domestic disturbances at his home.

I read somewhere that the roadies on a tour where the daisy toting Manchester indie band James (once upon a time favourites of mine) were support artists wore tee-shirts with the name of this track on their backs.

The guitar riff is frankly awesome on this track and I love singing along to this.

“Wake Up! Time to Die…” refers to the snippet of film dialogue taken from Bladerunner and is perhaps the bad side of the same night that spawned “Satellite Ecstatica”. A great hangover song which kind of links to “Evelyn” on the previous album.

The album is rounded off with the rather disappointing “Wise Up! Sucker (’12 Youth Mix)” which I tend to skip and which as remixes go is rather showing its age due to the choices of percussion used (sounds like they’ve been sampling more Stock Aitken and Waterman stuff) despite it featuring some excellent guitar riffs. It’s a shame because I think this is one of PWEI’s best albums. In fact I’d go so far as to call it classic.

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