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- Versions Of A Life by Ski Patrol
8/10 Brian Staff review, 06 June 2014
Wow.. A couple of months ago, struggling to recall this amazing song Peel played in 1987, I managed to locate said aural earworm on the you tube that the kids have these days, seemingly to fill with skateboarders killing themselves and cats falling off shit. I found it was by the rubbishly named Ski Patrol and was called 'Agent Orange' I don't believe it, It's here, in my house, on my deck, three songs in. My day is now free from the torment of thoughts of Vincent Gallo and his stupid conceited face.
The first couple of moody post-punk tunes are pretty cool, this late 70's London crew exercising an impassioned Television-meet-The Lines style vision. Sparse music with a scrappy dynamism and a fiercely cocky rhythm section. It's 'Agent Orange' that sets this compilation 'on fire' however. If you've not heard it before it's one of those ever-building, shivers-up-the-spine gems - all ascending bass, spectral guitar strokes and frantic motorik drums, the chorus skilfully building the tension to the point you think the back of your head is gonna explode.
Following that diamond find is 'Driving', a ridiculously fast-paced wiry thing with some hard-assed propulsive bass-work. The submerged panning sound that results from a deteriorating tape actually adds to the charm and feel of this track. It's a mad intense sonic punch indeed. The penultimate piece this side is a dubbed-out atmosphere-drenched song with some really muscular bass strides and a bit of a Killing Joke intensity (they shared the same label). It's fucking amazing too and is quite easily up there with Metal Box era PIL, quality-wise
Onto S2 and they're getting a bit more funky and rhythmical whilst retaining that all-important aspect of space and momentum. They become wire-tight players quite rapidly without losing their edge or undeniable intensity. Like many of these anthologies from this era the fidelity suffers in a couple of places where songs are lifted from dusty, decaying archives. But to present a good working knowledge of a semi-forgotten band you need these aberrations to present a more complete picture. Aside from the crap pub-rock name, there's nothing average about these boys.
Fans of Joy Division, early Chameleons, Artery and the other usual suspects need definitely apply......
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