It's been a while since I last saw them, but this is a radically new Lambchop on show tonight.
Lambchop tours have always been partially dictated by the practicalities and economics of members having day jobs - I've seen the numbers on stage range from one through to double figures, depending on who could get time off work and afford the flight from Nashville to the UK. This time they are touring as a three piece - Tony Crow on piano and cabaret jokes, Matt Swanson on bass and Kurt Wagner, sometimes playing guitar and, enabled by the innovations of their most recent FLOTUS album, overseeing the electronic side of things.
Sticking mainly, and understandably, to tracks from the new album the whole set maintained a wonderfully chilled out grove - this is alt country Philly soul taken to new places. Highlights included a stripped down and truncated The Hustle, a welcome outing of Garf (from 1996's How I Quit Smoking) and, with the help of the beautiful vocals of support act Roxanne De Bastion, set closer (and Prince cover) When You Were Mine.
An album that can still divide opinion, 1. Outside received mixed reviews on its release in 1995. Many were excited by the reunion with Brian Eno, the embracing of a more experimental industrial sound and signs of a master returning to reclaim his place as a true innovator, whilst others were left baffled by the Non-Linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle concept, a man in his late forties trying to be as with it as possible by latching onto to youngsters' underground sounds. There were even accusations of pretentiousness, something that you can imagine he took as a compliment - as Gary Numan once said "what's wrong with being pretentious?".
What you do have is a supremely confident and ambitious album, still pushing boundaries and containing some of his most challenging, but rewarding, music that can hold it's own against many albums from his imperial phase.
It was also a very long album and one that, given it's concept and sprawling 19 tracks, (including 5 spoken word segues) presented itself as there perfect candidate to be released as a double album. Only it wasn't.
What you ended up with was a full length CD version clocking in at 75 minutes - heavy going for one sitting and one that would benefit from being allowed a brief moment to take stock as you turned the record over or changed disc. There was also a 51 minute single vinyl version entitled "Excerpts from Outside" that dropped six of album's tracks. The problem was that this version didn't do Outside justice as a standalone album, with some of the stronger and poppier tracks dropped in favour of...well, I'm not quite sure how the songs were chosen. The first eight tracks are all present, but it's then as if someone lost interest and dropped tracks from the second half of the album almost at random. Maybe these tracks were chosen as they held together the album's concept best. But surely that would be irrelevant with a non-linear story. I was hugely disappointed and finally opted for the CD version instead.
I did sometimes programme the CD player to compile my own version of "Excerpts from...", which worked as a fantastic art-rock album - one that arguably would've won over those critics who at the time were put off by the sheer volume of music on the full album. Although the odd track would change from time to time, my 45 minute excerpts went something like this:
- Leon Takes Us Outside
- The Hearts Filthy Lesson
- Segue - Baby Grace
- Hallo Spaceboy
- I Have Not Been To Oxford Town
- No Control
- The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
- We Prick You
- Segue - Nathan Adler
- Thru' These Architects Eyes
- Strangers When We Meet
Great, But it still doesn't quite do it justice does it? If it came out liked that then you'd probably still need to release an extended EP for some of the tracks missed off.
Thank heavens then for the 20th anniversary version where, for the first time, the album was released as a double album, at last giving it the respect it deserves. It sounds incredible.
Still on the letter C, it's time for the Julian Cope vinyl collection. Bar a couple of releases - 2007's You Gotta Problem With Me and this year's RSD pressing of Drunken Songs - Julian's solo albums stopped being released on vinyl when he left Echo records after the release of Intepreter in 1996.
Still a great listen, even the perceived low point - the glossy My Nation Underground - has enough classic moments to make it worthwhile.
There was a time when I used to regularly store important information about bands in one of their their record sleeves - lyrics, song info, correct tracklisting, discographies, want lists, my own "best of" lists, in fact anything that I thought I might need to refer to at some point in the future.
The ease of accessing this information nowadays has pretty much put paid to that and a lot of this information has slowly vanished from inside the record sleeves over the years.
However, it was refreshing to find this inside the sleeve for Chumbawamba's single "I Never Gave Up" - a full band discography, taken from the early days of the internet and printed on continuous printer paper.