The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure for Sanity
This album came out while I was at university and I originally had a recording off someone and then bought the CD. There were strange differences between my tape and the CD. “X Y & Zee” and “92°F” were different mixes – this is known as they say in Game of Thrones- but I’m sure that the mix of “Dance of the Mad Bastards” was different – had bigger lead in from “The Incredible P.W.E.I. vs The Moral Majority” and also “Cicciolina” contained different football commentary samples. I swear.
I loved the artwork and the whole vibe of the album which was a lot more dance orientated than the previous album. All the songs seem to fit together nicely in a kind of science fiction theme.
“The Incredible P.W.E.I. vs The Moral Majority” features the ramblings of a TV evangelist which were also used by Manchester indie band James on their track “Gold Mother” and serves as a great lead in to “Dance of the Mad…” The speech and the song “X Y & Zee” would later serve as influences for my book “The Music” as would other PWEI songs which I’ll point out as these posts progress.
“Dance of the Mad Bastards” presents the ultimate ultrasonic Technicolor climax for all party people and probably the best rap The Poppies have ever delivered. The aceed synth noises, monk like vocals and banging percussion are designed to make even the most cynical listener start tapping their foot. The tune and the rap have a relentless momentum; it’s one of my favourites.
“88 Seconds… & Still Counting” could probably be considered to be PWEI’s first anti-racist song way before they even thought of “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” referring as it does to the Klan and calling for the church of racial purity to be nuked. In comparison to the previous track it seems a little slow, but it helps you get ready for the very laid back vibes of the next track.
“X Y & Zee (Electric Sunshine Style)” uses samples from Barry White, Buffalo Springfield, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Althea & Donna and Steppenwolf in this sci-fi tale advertising the merits of listening to intergalactic punk rock hip hop on the transmissions of a sub-space station while basking in the last rays of civilisation as we know it. It also makes the first reference to ‘PWEIzation’ as a concept. The original of the track is Track 18 on my CD and is only slightly different from the remix so I’ll shrug and move on.
“City Zen Radio 1990/2000 FM” contains a little snippet of politics in the lyric ‘No ID cards! No poll tax!’ and conjures up images of the dystopian future if we let these two things happen and acts as a short lead in to “Dr. Nightmare’s Medication Time” which piles in a load of samples (most notable for me from the Beastie Boys “Shake Your Rump”) and a little bit of speech from the imaginary DJ of the imaginary radio station broadcasting live from planet Earth all adding to the sci-fi vibe which is then suspended for a bit of Italia 90 madness.
“Touched by the Hand of Cicciolina (edited highlights)” was an unofficial World Cup song and supported Ilona Staller a.k.a. Cicciolina, the Hungarian-born Italian porn star, politician and sometime singer. Instrumental portions of the music were used time and again for goal highlights on TV. The track features drums from “Sound and Vision” by Bowie and Funkadelic again as well as all sorts of crazy samples.
“1000x NO!” I love the rap on this track for its bizzareness but unlike “Dance of the Mad Bastards” I can’t even attempt to do it word for word. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about but I like it.
I love the squeaky noises and the use of stereo on “Psychosexual” and once I’ve heard this track I always find myself singing it later in the day. Reminds me a bit of the film The Man Who Fell to Earth.
I always thought “Axe of Men” was called “Axe of Man” – you live and learn. PWEI apparently released this as a single the same time as “X Y & Zee” and it bombed. Again really weird lyrics to which I really should pay more attention.
“Another Man’s Rhubarb” comes from the classic line from the original Batman film starring Jack Nicholson as the Joker. The song is a nice song about being good to each other. As they say in Bill & Ted ‘be excellent to each other’ dudes and never rub another man’s rhubarb. Which if you don’t know means don’t interfere with someone else’s business and more specifically don’t try and steal their girlfriend.
“Medicine Man Speak with Forked Tongue” is a little intro to “Nightmare at 20,000ft” featuring a metronome and the voice of a hypnotists telling the listener that they can and will fly without fear. “Nightmare” is a great rap about being scared of flying and I love the sample of the guy saying ‘if I ever get my hands on the fucking sonofabitch who built that fucking plane I’ll rip his goddamn fucking face off…’ which must be out of a disaster movie. Musically the track is a triumph of multi-tracked beats and samples with a great rolling bassline.
“Very Metal Noise Pollution” is another short one with a funny rap and repeats another theme that the Poppies were into. I recall one album (at least) on which the Designers Republic had put – ‘caution: this record contains high levels of very metal noise pollution’.
“92°F” refers to the temperature at which most murders are committed. The original track has the usual PWEI vocals with a little help from Sylvia Teller (who used to be a backing singer for Boney M) every now and again. “92°F (The 3rd Degree)” which is on the end of my CD has a much more techno vibe and has Teller’s vocals all the way through and as a result is a much stronger contender for track of the album, but I’m plumping for “Dance of the Mad Bastards”.
“Lived in Splendour: Died in Chaos” is another track in which Bladerunner pops up – this time samples from the soundtrack by Vangelis are used. The song is about those eternal themes desires, drink, drugs and death and as catchy as it is it seems to belong on the previous album.
“The Beat That Refused To Die” should really be called “The Most Pointless Track Ever Made by the Incredible PWEI”. Every time I listen to it it’s a minute and half of my life I’ll never get back.
PWEI’s Cure for Sanity was another classic album and I had every expectation that the next album would be just as good – watch out for my next post to see.
I am currently in the process of downloading and ordering the expanded version of this album in the hope that the remixes that were on my original taped copy of the album are on the second CD. I’ll let you know.