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A strange thing happened to The Raincoats in the mid ‘90s. After being bigged up by Kurt Cobain, they reappeared and had a little indian summer to their career, having originally split up in the early ‘80s. I distinctly recall them supporting Bis at an all ages show at 2pm on a sunday afternoon at Leeds Cockpit. The front row of the crowd consisted of myself alongside a bespectacled man in his 40s, both slightly out of place surrounded by reams and reams of teenage girls.
This EP initially came out around that time and is taken from a John Peel session and features the drumming prowess of Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth. I often have thought that this EP is a pocketbook ‘best of’ The Raincoats. If you can’t be arsed trudging through their back catalogue then just buy this and you have a neat summing up of what they are all about. It consists of two (then) new songs and two off their earlier ‘classic’ albums.
Opener ‘Don’t Be Mean’ is new and is a proto punk blast with eccentric spoken word vocals and lashings of violin, ‘We Smile’ is just gorgeous, with beautiful viola and cello that reminds me of This Mortal Coil, but with their rolling dishevelled avant rhythms and the Germanic vocals. ‘No-One’s Little Girl’ strays back to Gina Birch’s girlish vocals, again with the most magnificent string playing. It's a superb violin loop, ripe for sampling a la The Clash ‘Straight to Hell’, it’s oddly understated, the drumming never really kicks forward you expect the song to go loud and thrashy but it never does.
Finally ‘Shouting Out Loud’ from their ‘Odyshape’, the opening passage of which is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music from its era with fantastic bass and plucked strings before the whole thing veers off into a thousand directions never to quite recover its initial chilling poise. Utterly superb. The only disappointment being that this is not on vinyl.
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