lunes, 13 de diciembre de 2010

Sex Gang Children - The Hungry Years (Best Of)







Style: Goth Rock.
Similar artists: Christian Death, Fields Of The Nephilim, The Damned.
Recording year: Receiver, 1999.


One of the most original and, in terms of frontman Andi Sexgang's longevity, persistent of all the early-'80s British goth bands, the Sex Gang Children came together in early 1981 around a nucleus of Sexgang, bassist Dave Roberts, guitarist Terry MacLeay, and drummer Rob Stroud. All were unknowns, ensuring that the group's name was more fascinating than their membership. A William Burroughs line that had been grafted into a song by Bow Wow Wow, "Sex Gang Children" was promptly co-opted by one Boy George when he bowed out of that band after just two live shows in February 1981 to form his own group. But hopeful of landing a swift record deal, George conceded that Sex Gang Children was not a name that would take them far. He chose Culture Club instead, then gifted the discarded name to Andi.

By early 1982, the Sex Gang Children were regulars at the Clarendon Hotel in Hammersmith, where they recorded their debut album, the cassette-only live album Naked. The Illuminated label moved in for them within weeks of its release; the band's first single, the four-song Beasts EP, was in the stores by August 1982. Days later, however, it was out of them again, after somebody realized they'd not procured the necessary permissions for the Diane Arbus photo on the picture sleeve. With a major lawsuit apparently imminent, the record was briefly withdrawn while the sleeves were removed, but still Beasts reached number eight on the indie chart and hung around the listings for much of the next 12 months.

The Hungry Years is a fine starting point for a newcomer as well as a good enough effort for the already initiated. It's probably the easiest way for listeners to decide whether the group would be slightly up their alley or not -- with the dankly beautiful and driving extended version of "Mauritia Meyer" kicking things off, it's a headlong plunge into squealing vocals, post-punk bass moans, and dancefloors laden with incense. Andi Sexgang's singing is definitely the most extreme contribution to the group's sound -- his Marc Bolan fandom is obvious throughout, but more of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex bleating lamb days than anything else. If an acquired taste, he's also dramatic and clearly having incredible fun throughout -- songs like "Shout and Scream," "Beasts," and the herky-jerky "Sebastiane," with high-pitched violin adding to the mania, are crazed and wonderful showcases. Dave Roberts' bass work is very much the counterpoint instrument -- the appreciative liner notes mention a love for Peter Hook, which is obvious but not an exact clone, and his combination of high and low is a keeper. The constant tempo shifts and careening shifts within most of the songs themselves -- due credit for drummer Rob Stroud and his quick work -- give most everything an unexpected complexity, rock songs that rarely sound run of the mill. Two notable exceptions excluded from this collection are "Oh Funny Man," the band's cockeyed tribute to Charlie Chaplin, and the title song itself, a fluky but intriguing duet between Sexgang and Marc Almond, but aside from that this is one heck of a fine disc.










Fields Of Haze... Underground for all.

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