I didn’t find that remix of “Dance of the Mad Bastards” or “Cicciolina” mix I was after on the extra CD on the reissue of Cure for Sanity. It’s so long ago now that I had the tape with the different version of the album on that my memory fails me. The most interesting find on the CD is “Rock of Ages” which reveals the source for “City Zen Radio 1900/2000 FM” and “Dr. Nightmare’s Medication Time” on the original album. @maffrj (thanks) helped me out with my favourite film sample which is actually from the film Shame of the Jungle.
The Looks or the Lifestyle?
This was PWEI’s third album on the RCA label, released in 1992. The first two were recorded with the aid of Flood, this one wasn’t, and maybe that’s why I don’t dig it as much as the previous two? It was produced by Boilerhouse, but I think the main reason I was frankly disappointed with this album was the lack of samples and hip-hop in favour of a slight return to grebo albeit loaded with modernised sounds.
Another change was that Dr Nightmare got demoted to a support act for human drum machine Robert “Fuzz” Townshend, but that was a plus. It’s also the only PWEI album where the back cover is better than the front cover. I appreciate the fact that PWEI had changed their sound again (all good bands need to adapt to survive – ah the irony) but this album just didn’t do it for me although it contained some cracking singles. Due to the fact that I didn’t read any music press I stumbled across it in an HMV in Chester – I remember looking at it on the shelf (it was in the Top 20 of the album chart which was already odd) and thinking ‘that looks like a PWEI album, but surely it can’t be – the cover is wank…’
By 1993, the band’s biggest supporter at RCA Korda Marshall had left the label, and PWEI was given the heave-ho from RCA before the “Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies!” was released as a single and got to the dizzy heights of number 9 in the UK (it was the band’s biggest hit). I remember the mixed emotions I felt when they appeared on the BBC’s Top of The Pops as an unsigned band. It seemed ridiculous.
Also another little aside before I get onto waffling about the tracks is that it’s well known the band’s name comes from a quote from an NME article on a band called Jamie Wednesday. Dumb noodle that I am, I’ve only just realised why Jamie Wednesday rings a bell and that’s because two of the members (Jim Bob and Fruitbat) went on to become Carter USM. It’s all very interconnected. Another pop fact is that Fuzz the drummer was recently recruited by The Wonder Stuff and so the circle closes since PWEI in its most embryonic of states contained two of The Stuffies.
Anyhoo, on with the tracks:
“England’s Finest” is the sort of short ditty we’ve become used to in PWEInation introducing PWEI ‘by request England’s finest’.
“Eat Me Drink Me Love Me Kill Me” showcases Fuzz’s real drumming and also reveals a new style with less samples, less dance vibes, fast noisy rock guitars (not so much riffs as a wall of noise pollution) and a solo vocal performance by Crabb. The title is an obvious corruption of the bottle labels in Alice in Wonderland and also harks back to the classic Sample It, Loop It, Fuck It and Eat It Pepsi logo teeshirt.
“Mother” starts with some cute electronic beeps and blips and then drops back into the rock mode of the previous track albeit with a duet vocal. There’s a vague connection to Queen’s Bo Rhap in the lyrics of the first chorus and it seems to be the story of hot tempered mum who either kills herself or someone else on a beach. As usual it’s all a bit odd.
“Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!” (and save the entire planet) is a line from the classic Arnie film Total Recall and as a PKD fan I can chalk up yet another goal to the Mr Miyagi of sci-fi (the film is based on one of his books – see vaguely related post) and the track contains a nice little sample of Jane’s Addiction. I think I like this track a lot more than other tracks on the album (with the exception of the other singles) because to me it sounds like ‘Last album’s PWEI’ – more dancey, more rappy and it contains some great nicely placed affirmative swearing, some nice steel drum loops that remind me of Notting Hill carnival and electronic keyboards that are nice and Italian housey like “Cicciolina”.
“I’ve Always Been a Coward, Baby” has quite catchy chorus and features some interesting soundscaping with its chants, screams, riffs and Rhubarb and Custard style keyboards but I don’t like it all that much; it’s just a bit boring in comparison to other tracks on the album.
“Token Drug Song” contains a slowed down sampled from the classic Anime Akira and a snippet from “Wake Up! Time to Die…” – not that you’d know from listening – and this is fairly typical of most tracks on the album where the use of samples is generally subtle. There’s yet another Total Recall reference in the opening verse – ‘I’m a reptile, you’re Doug Quaid.’ The main message of the song is ‘if you can’t handle the drugs then don’t take them.’
“Karmadrome” was the first single to be released from the album and I remember reveling in the 7” mix and the CD single’s new track “PWEI-zation” which I just couldn’t stop playing. I absolutely love the track and can’t understand why it was an album track. Both tracks were instrumental in fueling ideas for my book “The Music”. I loved the idea of ‘sending out a signal to cure isolation’. The ‘b-side’ was “Eat Me Drink Me Love Me Kill Me” and it made for a great and much played CD single along with the album version of “Karmadrome”.
“Karmadrome” is a lot more high tempo, hi tech hip-hop and dancy than most of the tracks on the album and I love the lyrics warning of global warming, empires falling etc. and telling people to buck their ideas up – the line ‘power exists in everyone’ is great. It also mentions devolution which is perhaps why it was originally called the “Scottish Song” and perhaps was also a reference to Macbeth, or perhaps I’m over thinking it.
“Urban Futuristic (Son of South Central)” obviously relies heavily on “No More Mr Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper for inspiration but contains some great techno synth and banging beats from Fuzz. I vaguely recall this one being far better as live performance than as a recorded track. As it stands the music is far more interesting than the singing and perhaps might have worked better as an instrumental, although the ‘my mother old me, to tell you…’ repeated declaration is Grrrr..eat.
“Pretty Pretty” opens with some lyrics from the theme song for Neighbours and descends into something that Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s It might sing to his victims. There’s some nice guitar licks and atmospheric synth chords, but the song is quite repetitive and doesn’t really do much for me.
“I Was a Teenage Grandad” opens with a sample of an obscure INXS track and whinges about getting old. I like the song speeds up and slows down as it varies from a jazz lounge room to a thrash metal gig, but again it sounds like filler instead of killer to me.
“Harry Dean Stanton” more or less opens with a sample of Johnny Marr’s guitar from “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths after a bit of stock wind noise. I love the looped vocals in the backing track and the storytelling. Harry Dean Stanton is wonderful actor who’s played some great quirky roles and is best known for his role aboard the Nostromo in the film Alien. Musically this track is very atmospheric, but tends to go on a bit too long, before the final superb last track.
“Bulletproof!” is almost everything you could ever want in a PWEI track. The Joker from Batman is back, they’ve ripped off the classic song K.C & The Sunshine Band “That’s the way I like it” and combined their trademark multi-layered percussion to the tune. However the lyrics are almost as minimalist as “There is now love between us anymore” and as a result the track is a bit Marmite, and doesn’t stand up to repeat plays. That’s the way I like it indeed…
We were all left wondering what would become of our beloved jilted Poppies…
Pop Will Eat Itself’s 16 Different Flavours of Hell
While they were trying to figure out what to do next RCA knocked out a collection. With a name like the above you’d think it would have sixteen tracks on it, but no what’s this? it has n, n, n, nineteen.
I’m not going to say a lot about this one apart from the fact it does contain “PWEIzation” and some slightly alternate mixes of some of the tracks such as “Another mans Rhubarb” and “Dance of the Mad”.
I could say it was a cynical move on the part of the label, but The Poppies did allegedly leave RCA with a tonne of debt so I don’t think we can think too badly of them for trying to recoup some of their losses. In hindsight it’s easy to say that being dumped by RCA was one of the best things that ever happened to PWEI because without the kick of their collective backside I doubt Dos Dedos Mis Amigos would be half the awesome album that it is….