Share WOMAN - Woman (Bang! Records)
On my birthday I received a vinyl album in the mail, of a band I'd barely heard but was willing to take a punt on. I bought the album, this wasn't a freebie. This was my first sortie like this in a few years. I put it on yet again this morning, and was promptly catapulted back a quarter of a century or more. Somewhere between the Scientists' first 12" EPs and the Primevils (uh, the Adelaide band) I suppose is the first response.
The second is that it is so fucking difficult to gauge a band from an album. Some bands are born to howl at you from the stage. Others make great little records and are just, well, a band pootling through the setlist on stage. You can't tell, not really.
Anyone who saw The Birthday Party in late '81 early '82 will agree; I remember being distinctly disappointed with 'Junkyard' because it didn't capture the band's live sound. On the other hand, Tony Cohen didn't have a lot of time to get it right in the studio (he came closest, and damn near karked out while doing so, on 'She's Hit'). We discussed this once, and I felt like a real shit when I had to explain that he'd gotten about only a third of the band's live sound. Christ, his face fell. On the other hand, I just can't think of anyone else who'd have gotten any closer at the time. Pity I didn't have the presence of mind to mention that to him at the time. Bloody hell, now I feel like a right prick.
Anyway. Anyone who saw the Scientists before the record containing "Rev Head" will know what the absolute highlight of the live set was. So, somehow either there was a whopping argument in the studio, or some sort of fuckup or someone threw up on the wombat switch, but 'Rev Head' just sounds really pale and distant. Mixed into nothing like what we were expecting.
The reason I say all this is 'cause Woman's first, self-titled album is a blast. Make that a fuckin' rockin' uncomfortable, ugly and kinda beautiful fuckin' trip.
There's a berko guitarist in one corner, another guitar viciously undercutting him, a bass player who seems to have everything turned up to 11, and a drummer who somehow makes sense of it all. And they're tight, at least on record; stop on a crushed midget's toe, turn around and doubleback again.
Several listens later and I know this is music that's always going to bear another listen, there's so much going on between the guitars and the rhythm. The sonics are good. It's not the most expensive recording in the world, but I think you'll find similar comments being made about The Ramones and The New York Dolls, you know?
And the gatefold sleeve, the scrawled thanks list (I particularly like the one to "everyone who's ever given the Skeleton Boy a bass", which kinda implies it wasn't a loan, and that each bass the Boy is handed gets somehow destroyed or at least crippled) and being able to order and receive the album inside two weeks - no wonder record stores are flailing to make a crust. Since I wrote initially wrote this, Big Star in Adelaide have changed hands or collapsed, and we have a leaner shop in Clarity Records on Pulteney Street. BLATANT PLUG.
Now, Woman may be total shit live. I've no idea, and you can't tell from Youtube either. I doubt it myself, but I can't tell from the album, which begs to be played rather loud, flipping it over and over until you're sick.
While I'm here, a quick and embarrassing confession. I got the name of the band wrong first time round. Called 'em "Mother". Had the John Lennon song trickling around in my head. Couldn't figure it. Then, suddenly the truth snuck up, as it does sometimes. Way back in '87 I saw X on my birthday too. Rilen busts a string. He's the rather brutal looking little bloke pounding on this beaten-up lump of wood to one corner. The man looks so focussed, bestial. Anyway, the roadies scurries out as roadies do, hands Rilen his spare bass and darts to the edge of the stage to restring. Did I mention Rilen has bust the top fucking string? After about three wallops on the replacement bass Rilen unplugs it and hurls the thing at the unfortunate roadie's head. Missed him by that much. Rilen went on to monster the poor bloke until the thing was fixed, all the while the band are banging through an extended intro. X's version of "Mother" is my favourite X song. So, that's another backhanded compliment if you like.)
Sometimes it's good to be reminded of all the great stuff you've seen in the past; even more by idiots like these who know how to put out a killer album and - hopefully - lay waste anyone unfortunate enough to wander into their rehearsal room by mistake.
Woman take no prisoners, but then, they don't have to. If this were 25 years ago I'd say: "If you see this record, you know what to do". But we're all on the internet now. So you have no excuse if you've read this far.
Oh, one last thing. They've done another and it's imminent. You know what to do.- Robert Brokenmouth
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