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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Summer Of Guff


Summer Of Guff
The Paedophile Priests

Polymorphous Pervert Records

Review by Alexander Stark

The well-known phrase ‘difficult third album’ might well have been invented for the much awaited new release Summer Of Guff from controversial Swansea cult indie rockers the Paedophile Priests, but for all the wrong reasons. Just before Christmas, iconoclastic front-man ‘Bald’ Archie Canterbury was rumoured to have left the band to concentrate on his new side-project Joan Bakewell & The Tarts in collaboration with Des Lynam, Julian Assange, and a broken lawnmower, and drummer Tutu Bishop was arrested on drugs charges during a charity concert in Timbuktu. With guitarist Ike Davis in much-publicised rehab for model addiction after his public split with girlfriend Kate Moses, the Priests’ disarray and disintegration seemed complete and completely dismal.

But in characteristic style they have returned just in time it seems to re-take their place at the apex of Brit pop, enthralling fans and virgins alike with their usual blend of acerbic lyrics and ear-ripping aural bricolage. But did I say ‘usual’? Of course, nothing is ever usual with the Priests, and that is the essence of their power to shock and spring eternal from the jaded and dusty fountainhead that is the flagging heart of the British musical scene. Indeed, with the whole country on its knees economically, Summer Of Guff feels like the morale-boosting breath of foul air that we’ve all been waiting for.

As ever, instrumentation runs the gamut of invention: from detuned violas and retro-wrecked harpsichords, to eviscerated goats guts miked-up to back-firing motorbikes, didgeridoos and recordings of NATO night-time bombing raids. Particularly topical as events have subsequently unfolded, is Muammar Gaddafi (now how did they pull off a coup like that?) providing guest vocals on two of the tracks Oil, My Ass and: I Fly Pariah International. Despite numerous attempts at imitation over the last few years, no other band have even come close to the originality and influentiality of the Priests since their seminal release Father Tolled Me Off With The Bells, and its astonishing follow-up Get Behind Me, Satan.

The heart of every song is still Canterbury’s hauntingly ecclesiastical vocals and wry observations on the world, like a sermon from some sort of drunken Jesus who survived the cross, sold his story to The Sun then got busted by Interpol on his way over to Al-Jazeera. “There’s always time enough to repent/ Time enough to tell you what I really meant” he laments in the stirring Tony B. Liar’s Confession Cubicle, and after an appealingly vile zither solo from Ike Davis, he rounds it off with “Nail me to your floorboards/ I’m so sorry I made you cross/ Vote me a penance baby/ I’ll take the street and a dodgy doss.”

But the Priests save the best for last, with the last three tracks on the album amounting to an impassioned lampooning of all things Royal and British. Patriots beware. Prince Andrew Junket Junkie blows us sideways with coronation trumpets overlaid with the sound of yelping corgis (“No royal family members or equally dumb animals were harmed during the making of this record”, the sleeve notes helpfully tell us). Duke Of Anywhere But Here, mercilessly berates the Queen’s Consort with a meticulous list of diplomatic gaffes over the years: “Slanty eyes and golly wogs/ Swiss cuckoo clocks and Dutchman’s Clogs/ Prejudice ’gainst nations diverse/ I get my views from Taxi Drivers/ Closeted, moi?”

The Paedophile Priests are the urban troubadours of our troubled age, bringing an inane smile to even the most inane of our kingdom’s weary serfdom. Archibald Canterbury is a true poet of the modern world. I’ll leave you this from the magnificent closing track Organise Your Own Street Riot, in which we encounter the edifying spectacle of BBC Royal Correspondents Jenny Bond and Nicholas Witchell being entombed alive with the Queen Mother in the manner of an Egyptian Pharaoh:

In patriotic royalty haze
Street parties in the good old days
Were timed to set the minions free
To celebrate the Jubilee
Or even better when a wedding
Tabloid froth and see-through bedding
Diana’s fringe and Charles’ bald pate’s
Been swapped this time for Wills and Kate
Let’s all forget the nation’s fate
To watch two people copulate

Blessed by God as from above
He pours down cocktails Molotov
A recipe from Jenny Bond
Right royal advice to correspond
To Nick Witchell’s prime hot air
We wonder what he sees up there
Gazing up the royal pudenda
To postulate the day’s agenda
Two silly poodles we should have smothered
The day we lost the old Queen Mother
Sealed up like Pharaoh with her slaves
Alive inside the Dowager's grave
Endless commenting on putrefaction
We’d hate to miss out on the action.

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