ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


RELAX! ITS alright. Defiantly confounding the lacklustre quality of todays pop parade pranksters it gives me great pleasure to announce that this week there are actually some vinyl artefacts worth exchanging your pretty green for. Not many, mind — but lets not get greedy. Any little gem setting forth to do battle with the likes of Re-Flex, Queen, etc, deserves every bit of help we Clean-Up-The-Airwaves campaigners can give.

So, standing respectfully to attention and clutching my hat to my heart, I can recommend, in a loud, clear voice the latest boss waxing (copyright G Crowley) from THE SPECIAL AKA. ‘Nelson Mandela (2 Tone) is an upful concoction of loping Afro-Caribbean joy allied to a lyric you just cant ignore. Jerry Dammers has answered the anti-politics brigade in the finest possible manner by presenting the crucial subject of the essential corruption inherent in all (well, at least 99%) white South Africans in a form that the radio buffoons might (lets hope) accept. Mandelas imprisonment is a crime, pure ‘n simple. ‘Nelson Mandela is a pro law and order song. A pro-justice song. Buy it.

Theres nothing to quite match that peerless assemblage so lets set our sights a little lower and just hope for some plain respectable pop. PROPAGANDA seem capable of supplying some of that, and their ‘Dr Mabuse, part two in Zang Tumb Tuums chart attack possesses pretension and trash melody in just the right proportions. Stealing shamelessly from the expressionist film makers from Lang to Cocteau, Propaganda have mixed up their swag with a typically thorny, Horny production. It goes crash! and bang! in all the right places, a girly chorus (I bet theyd hate to be called a ‘girly chorus) rescuing ‘Dr Mabuse just when The Art begins to get a bit dense. The chart wont suffer by playing host to this Teutonic tonic.

On a much quieter level ‘Excerpts from the Suburbia Suite by THE SOUND BARRIER (Compact) may not be the stuff that dreams (or hit singles) are made of, but as a piece of unadorned instrumental message its effect on the ears is suitably subtle. Tot Taylor, in his guise of record magnate Teddy Johns, has given his nostalgia full rein and come up with a product that vastly supercedes his clumsy big beat attempts with Mari Wilson. Taylor is as light-fingered as our German Propagandists, his target being, however, the filmic scenarios of Dave Brubeck and Jimmy Smith and he convincingly dumps on the inferior copyist mentality that Mr Paul Weller bases his (inexplicable) chart consistency on.

More back-dated reverence arrives in the shape of ‘The Smiling Hour by KALIMA from crazy madcap Mancunians Factory. It sounds like Animal Nightlife which is No Bad Thing and in the light of the astonishing success of Swans Way could well insinuate itself into the nations consciousness in a manner that the Nightlifers sadly failed in achieving. Its cool. Its heated. Tinkling keys and oozing sax plus a lot of voices make this one a tip for the top. (I must point out, though, that to counter the class of the Kalima disc Factory have also inflicted upon us a very terrible version of ‘Telstar by AD INFINITUM. It may have a pretty sleeve but that is no reason whatsoever to remove it from a record shop).

THE BLUEBELLS have always occupied a space of reserved fondness in this ole heart of mine and ‘Im Falling (London) does nothing to alter this situation. Bobbys been listening to Roddy, and it shows. ‘Im Falling possesses all the ingredients that spell Hit but thats been said of virtually every Bluebells release thus far. Buy the record and change their luck.

The final vital vinyl is MADONNAs newie… or perhaps that should read oldie — ‘Lucky Star (Sire) predated the glorious ‘Holiday by a few months but now that the Great British public has finally awakened to the Truth that is Madonnas pre-eminence itll doubtless cruise into the charts with nary a stumble. Good job too.

WILL Do Better applies to Roy WHITE and Steve TORCH. Talented lads they are, to be sure, and a dab hand at knocking out minor entertainments (including the best Scott Walker impersonation for ages). Their failing is that theyve been lumbered with a particularly offensive image, looking like a couple of Quentin Crisp houseboys on the cheesy fold-out sleeve. A pity, because ‘Bury My Heart (RCA) possesses all the usual White & Torch ingredients — a fair to middling song shored up with theatrical vocals and a bombastic arrangement. Theyll have a hit… eventually.

Alas, old hippy JULIAN COPE appears to have enjoyed all the hits hes going to get. I cant really understand why this passing distraction is called ‘The Greatness And Perfection Of Love

(Mercury) cos Jules is quite clearly singing ‘the greatest imperfection is love.

Doesnt matter though, cos the songs still lousy. Just like BILLY BREMNERs. ‘Shatterproof (Arista) is indubitantly the worst Elvis Costello number since ‘Party Party and coming from the man who gave the world the heavenly ‘Loud Music In Cars a downright crying shame. Billy ought to release his vocal version of ‘Heart from the one and only Rockpile LP… now that would be a record!

Descending into the depths of record company dungeons we start to dredge up the real stinkers of this weeks plastic attack. MARSHALL CRENSHAW has written some corkers. ‘Our Town (WEA) is not one of them. JERMAINE STEWART says ‘The Word Is Out but I really dont think that nicking The Art Of Noises megalithic beat box theories will rescue a no-no tune. And WIDE BOY AWAKEs godawful collage of Hispanic vocalese and Afro-electro gamely described as ‘Billy Hyena (RCA) almost made me cry — such was my despair at the hi-man race on hearing it. I cheered up a little with ‘Strong Me Strong by YELLOWMAN (CBS) but it didnt last. Utilising the crucially hip production team of Material may well impress us easily co-erced pop scribblers but not, I fear, the punters. With a bit of luck theyll also give the bums rush to ‘Borrowed Time by JOHN LENNON (Polydor) as well. Its about time death stopped guaranteeing hits. Mind you, death might well be an interesting alternative to releasing records — especially for ‘artists like ZEE and DAVID GILMOUR.

Being in Pink Floyd must be a harrowing enough experience for a po young boy so maybe we should excuse the mindless dabbling that now appears the only future for ex-Floyders. ‘Confusion and ‘Blue Light (both Harvest) are both utterly vile.

ALTON EDWARDS ‘Everybodys Watching (Streetwave), SENSES ‘If You Can Count (West End) and ‘Hello from LIONEL RICHIE (Motown) arent vile, just boring. If Alton E is the UKs Michael Jackson there really is no hope for us. Senses look gorgeous — that they make records too is but a minor detail. Lionel Richies as goofy and wet as ever — the sole reason for buying his latest single being the fact that theres the instrumental version of ‘All Night Long on the B-Side. ‘Thats The Way by DEAD OR ALIVE (Epic) just leaves me speechless. Crass. Similarly so the ultimate dregs of the week — ‘Eyes Of The World by the amusingly named ZU ZU SHARKS (EMI) (contrived or what!), ‘Burning Flame from VITAMIN Z, (Mercury) ‘Dont Talk To Strangers from BOYS DONT CRY (L) and CHRIS REAS ‘I Dont Know What It Is But I Love It (Magnet) — all of which epitomise the current trend for band and companies to unerringly strive for the lowest common denominator at all costs. By their own pathetic standards they probably describe their work as being successful beyond their wildest dreams. Horrible, horrible, horrible.