A GUEST POSTING by SWC
A couple of weeks ago, JC posted a couple of tracks by Dolly Mixtures and I happened to mention that I owed a couple of their tracks as covered by Fucked Up and sort of walked into writing something about them. Taking that as a cue, I’ve turned that request into an ICA. This should walk the forthcoming ICA World Cup by the way.
The Toronto based sextet Fucked Up are, I think, the greatest hardcore punk band of the last 20 years. Over the last fifteen years or so they have released track after track of brilliantly abrasive compelling punk rock. Their music is blended around the voice of Damian ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham, a man blessed with a voice that sounds like he spends all his time rubbing a cheese grater against his throat. Which by the way sounds way better than I have described it. Behind that voice you get an onslaught of guitars, an assault of drums, an immense wall of sound, the occasional flute and the odd piccolo.
However, it’s not just about punk rock with Fucked Up though. The band have experimented, last year they released the wonderful (honestly one of the eight best records ever made) album ‘Dose Your Dreams’ which saw the band blend their punk sound with shoegaze, rave, baggy, twee, jazz and indie pop. The album showcased their wide range of musical influences, the pick of which are below. The first track liberally borrows a bassline from ‘Pills N Thrills..’ era Mondays and it’s incredible.
Two albums before that came ‘David Comes To Life’ an 18 track rock opera concept album about two starcrossed lovers (David and Veronica) who conspire together to build a bomb and cause general mayhem and destruction (seriously, it gets pretty deep). It is 70 odd minutes of screaming, beautiful brilliance, which contains the tracks below. The first track of which is easily one of the best punk rock tracks ever recorded (very easily). As rock operas go, this knocks ‘Tommy’ into a cocked hat.
Before ‘David…’ came ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’ which I think was their second album (I lose count to be honest), and the first signs emerged that the band were trying to become more accessible or had perhaps outgrown their DIY roots (despite refusing to change their name and you know, try to actually sing). That album contains probably their finest single moment (although my opinion on this changes literally every day) in ‘No Epiphany’.
The fact that the band are called Fucked Up hasn’t helped their radio play, the fact that Pink Eyes has a voice that sounds like the noise wire wool makes when you scrap it along a wall, hasn’t helped their radio play, regardless of what they are called. However, if anyone else had sung this and if anyone else had recorded this it would have been long since heralded as one of the greatest guitar records of all time and would be on an endless loop on Radio X. Yes it would.
In their early days though the band were very much a singles band. Their first dozen releases were (I think), all limited edition 7” singles, which became and remain very collectible.
On top of that they have released a single for every sign of the Chinese Zodiac. Most of these are 20 minutes long so I ain’t sticking them up but still they are all utterly astonishing especially ‘Year of the Snake’. They’ve also bundled up all their single releases and most of the B Sides into two compilation albums (containing some 50 odd tracks), all this before album three hit the shelves.
Back in 2006 though they decided that they wanted to release something special for Record Store Day, which sort of brings me to the reason why I wrote this piece in the first place. The band decided to release two limited edition 7” singles featuring two covers each of two of their favourite bands. Bands that they loved, grew up listening to, bands that sat firmly in the tweepop genre bands that were as far removed from punk rock as you could get.
These were Dolly Mixtures (who Pink Eyes tells us in the sleeve notes, made a movie!) and Shop Assistants. Dolly Mixtures you will know all about because JC wrote about them a couple of weeks ago. Shop Assistants were from Edinburgh and have probably also featured on these pages somewhere. I’ve not heard any of the originals (perhaps JC will indulge us…) so I’m not going to comment apart from say that these versions are obviously ace.
Thanks for reading
SWC September 2019
…….Shop Assistants have made the occasional appearance on this blog, but not as often as their tunes have merited. They also get aired every time when we have a Simply Thrilled night but until now I had no idea the cover versions of these songs existed:-
And since SWC asked so nicely:-