Product is proud to unveil its new reviews section – there are no poncey star ratings or ridiculous numerical awards systems – we actually listen to the damn records (& pay for them all ourselves too – with real money) so yr. just gonna have to read the damn reviews – it’s as simple as that.

The Vines – Get Free – Heavenly
Second 45 from the upcoming "Highly Evolved" LP - The Vines continue their assault on the senses & sensibilities of "the kids" with a tinnitus-tastic slouch through some of the best gtr abusing, throat rasping shapes currently available in the classic bedroom wardrobe collection. Clocking in @ 2.04, it’s at least 30 seconds longer than the last one – hurrah for brevity & happy feedback endings.

"She never loved me – why should anyone", wails Craig Nicholls. Give it time, young angst-meister, we have a feeling that may well change by the end of the year.

The 7" veshun offers the self-explanatory "Blues Riff", whilst the CD vershun has the added bonus of "Down @ The Club" & "Hot Leather". The former is a no-fi wonderment of delicate tuneage, gorgeous harmony & deft touch, the latter a sweaty cocksure strut through (by now) more familiar territory.

The Vines are probably as pleased with themselves as we are for getting through the review without mentioning Nirvana or The Beatles (aaaargh, fucksticks).

Guy Debored

Love – Da Capo – Elektra
The trilogy is now complete, why we had to wait so long is beyond us. Chronology is obviously a concept that evades employees responsible for scheduling @ Elektra. Personally, I’m not getting sweaty palms or geeky headaches waiting for "Four Sail" – my Love re-masters collection is now complete.
Harshly panned in certain quarters back in the day (a great 1-sided LP, so the jibes went), "Da Capo" (repeat from the beginning) comes present & correct with stereo & mono mixes plus an alternative take of "Seven & Seven Is" (the cut that "practically invented Punk Rock single-handedly" – quote; Arthur Lee). Forever destined to remain in the shadow cast by the subsequent "Forever Changes", "Da Capo" still positively vibrates with period charm. The songwriting & performances are exemplary throughout - Paul Rothchild’s production remains as fresh as the day it hit the tape, allowing the tunes to breathe easily in both mixes. "I feel that I found myself; or planted a seed of who I am today," Lee reveals to Andrew Sandoval in the extensive sleeve notes (complete with many previously unseen visuals).
I guess its not called the Elektra Classics series for nothing.

Marquee Smith

Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen – Virgin
25 years down the line, the original mix still spits more venom, hatred & genuine menace at the listener than any record this soldier cares to remember. Ever. The Sex Pistols were, & still are, the greatest single cultural threat this sorry country has ever experienced. Ever. In 1977 you could still make a political statement with a haircut & a safety pin – today you are more likely to be taking part in a John Galliano cat-walk than scaring the establishment. For a brief period, a quarter of a century ago, the "man" found it all so threatening he decided to deny this rekkid the No.1 spot on the grounds that it tore at the very fabric of society. A bit more dangerous than cutting yr.self with a razor blade, entertaining eating disorders or cultivating self-destructive drug habits, doncha think? Of course, on the one hand, there was a future – we’re living in it now, obviously – but on the other hand, it does bear an uncanny resemblance to the one aptly described in the Pistols agenda defining "Anarchy In The UK"; "Yr. future dream is a shopping scheme". So they failed to predict the 24/7 aspect – what do you want from yr. visionaries – accuracy. Try doing that with "Supersonic" or "Cigarettes & Alcohol" in 2020 & I predict you’ll come up somewhat short of the mark. The remixes? Fuck off.

Charles Gard Du Nord.

The Bellrays – Meet The Bellrays – Poptones
The Bellrays have been around a while (literally – they make some of trakMARX staff appear young & vibrant). They’ve released two perfectly serviceable LP’s on their own Vital Gesture Records; 98’s "Let It Blast" & 2000’s "Grand Fury" - & that is where you should begin. This shabby, shoddy pick & mix compilation is typical of the kind of low concept shit peddled by Poptones in their Houdini-like attempt of avoid meeting the receivers down the wrong end of a darkened balance sheet.

The Bellrays are best served by the 1st LP’s "Black Honey" or the 2nd album’s "Stupid Fuckin People". Much of the guff in between veers from parody ("Screwdriver" or "Blues For Godzilla") to pointlessness ("They Glued Yr. Head On Upside Down" or "Testify"). Recent press has seen them railing against descriptions such as: Tina Turner fronting The MC5. Such fuckin lazy journalism, they scream – if you carnt take the comparisons, don’t sound EXACTLY like (insert black female soul crooner with molten larynx here) fronting (insert revolutionary minded Detroit based r&r gunslingers here). It really is that fuckin simple, mama.

Hoping for a repeat performance of The Hives success is gonna be like waiting for Boaby Gillespee to come up with an original idea – fuckin arduous. Go check The VaGiants instead. The only thing we can say about Lisa’s soul is; tainted, love.

Nick Kuntz.

The Velvet Underground & Nico – Deluxe Edition – Polydor
Debut LP’s usually set the parameters for a band’s career – very rarely do they set the parameters of a genre. "The Velvet Underground & Nico" is as stunningly, breathtakingly perfect today as it was 35 years ago. Rayban shades, Vox amplifiers, nihilistic attitudes, black clothes & a sense of sexual danger still flow direct from the speakers & into yr. life. The menace is often over-powering.

Personel; Long Island speedfreak, Welsh classicist, Arian ice-maiden, rhythm-methodist & cross dressing tomboy.

Subject matter; paranoia, drugs, sado-masochism & living in the city.

This superior re-master includes stereo & mono mixes of the LP’s 11 original cuts, 5 traks originally recorded for Nico’s solo debut "Chelsea Girl" & mono mixes of the LP’s supporting singles. With a 28-page booklet crammed full of rare photos, memorabilia & an essay by Dave Thompson, this indispensable LP has finally gotten the 5 star treatment, & not before time.

Jean Encoule.

The Beatings – Jailhouse – Fantastic Plastic.
Debut 45 from London’s latest self-styled saviours of R&R. The 7" is a rare as rocking horse shit affair, ltd to 500 hand-painted copies (by the band themselves). Allegedly produced by Kevin Shields (whom the band met after working on building his new home studio). The CD features 3-traks:

"Jailhouse" - a strange powerhouse brew blending a soupcon of Birthday Party, a dash of Stooges & the naked aggression of several bus loads of nude Chelsea supporters – oh, & the words "I’m going to the jailhouse" screamed a few thousand times.

"Otherside" – bawls it’s way into town on the back of a gargantuan riff that possibly hasn’t seen the cold light of day for over 20 years. Piano is splashed about the mix the way Pollock uses paint.

"The Money Will Roll Right In" – another monster truck shaped riff kicks yr. head in & the bludgeoning continues (Mudhoney cover, fact fans). Simple, basic, effective, noisy & fucking good fun – what the fuck else do you expect from yr. R&R?

Along with the YYY’s EP & The Datsuns 45 – this is my favourite noise of the year so far.

Evan Halshaw.

The Fall – Rough Trade Singles Box – Sanctuary Records
Covering the period July 1980 to October 1983, this box contains period CD reproductions of 4 x Fall 45’s from the band’s 2 stints with Rough Trade during this period; "How I Wrote Elastic Man", "Totally Wired", "The Man Whose Head Expanded" & "Kicker Conspiracy".

Excellently packaged, lovingly re-mastered & absolutely bloody essential. The Fall – or to give them their full Peel title – Thee Mighty Fall – remain one of our true home-grown enigmas some 25 years after their inception. Mark E Smith continues to live on the cutting edge to this day, changing line-ups & releasing a record every damn time he feels like it. The 10 traks here capture The Fall at their most caustic, & together with the Rough Trade Anthology (reviewed below) & "Live From The Witch Trials", adequately represent entry- level access to one of our nation’s natural treasures.

Buy a season ticket.

Nick Kuntz

The Fall – Totally Wired/Rough Trade Anthology – Sanctuary Records
Hard on the heels of "Live At The Witch Trials" & "Dragnet", The Fall signed to Rough Trade & proceeded to record some of the most vital music of their glorious career. From 1980’s "Grotesque" to 1983’s "Perverted by Language" (squeezing out "Hex Enduction Hour" & "Slates" in the interim), The Fall dominated the indie left field. Smith was the hip priest with the world in his kamera & a collection of snap-shots to excite, frighten & distress. The Fall refused to be defined – they sat aloft alone. Nothing much has changed. The music sounds as puritan now as it did then.

"Totally Wired", "Rowche Rumble", "How I Wrote Elastic Man", "City Hobgoblins", "New Puritan", "Prole Art Threat", "The Man Who’s Head Expanded", "Hip Priest", "Eat Y’self Fitter" & "Kicker Conspiracy" – all the anti-hits & more.

If you’ve never been to The Fall then now’s as good a time as any to pay that 1st visit. In the current piss poor climate of will this do merchants & vacuous chancers, the UK needs The Fall more than ever. It’s edukational – it’s confrontational.

Nick Kuntz

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – WEA
The follow-up to 2000’s critically acclaimed "The Soft Bulletin" – produced again by Mercury Rev knob-twiddler, Dave Friddman.

More rigid in feel & texture than "Bulletin", "Yoshimi" (named after The Boredom’s drummer) is a futuristic mannerist canvas. Programmed beats battle with massed banks of strings, acoustic gtrs fill the spaces & Wayne Coyne croons his most heartfelt collection yet.

Where "Bulletin" was dark & somewhat confrontational, "Yoshimi" smudges a dash of optimism onto the canvas - less universal awareness – more worldly appreciation.

Coyne, Ivins, Drozd & Friddman have raised the bar once again. If we hear a more heartfelt, beautiful or comforting LP this side of 2003 we’ll be a bunch of junkie’s uncles.

Jack Bukowski

Idlewild – The Remote Part – Parlaphone

REM have been secretly developing Idlewild in a remote Scottish laboratory since loosing their way sometime back in the mid 90s. The recipe is fairly easy to make:

Take the basic blueprint of "Out Of Time" era REM & place it in a Petri dish (large).

Genetically splice DNA from Morrissey & Marr with strands of hair from the Edge’s thinning scalp. Marinate over night in a Bob Mould sauce. Sign to major label, tour with a handful of hip young support bands & commission moody sleeve "illustration" from locally renowned independent artist. Add cult poet to overlong instrumental closer. Place in chart for two weeks before slipping into the bargain bin in time for Xmas. Loose original fan-base & never get interviewed by angst ridden fanzine editors from Yeovil again.

Underground, overground, Woombling free – the Woombles of REM’s laboratory are we.

Jean Encoule

contact - the needle & the damage done