Friday, 31 May 2019

Sheena Is A Skunk Rocker! Here's Lo-Fidelity Allstars....

NME 9 May 1998 - Photo by Hamish Brown

"Stricken with grief I have no choice but to turn to lethal toxins.
Hard core punk paste. All Stars takin' overrrrrr"

The first band out of the record release traps, arriving a full year ahead of their skunk 'skohorts', were Lo Fidelity Allstars, their debut album 'How To Operate With A Blown Mind' hitting its 21st birthday last week. There's no denying that if The Beta Band were the actual crowned kings of the 'skunk rock' scene then Lo-Fidelity Allstars were supposed to be its shining lights....


Comprised of a rag tag of musicians - operating under a variety of (early) Mogwai-esque pseudonyms such as The Wrekked Train, The Albino Priest, Sheriff John Stone and Many Tentacles - they resided on Brighton's Skint Label, the very big-booted home to the likes of scene pioneers Fatboy Slim and Midfield General....



Far more abrasive than the languid musings of their contemporaries, their thundering mash of heavy (big) beats, cut-up samples and cryptic vocals saw Mary Anne Hobbes herald them as "the band that'll change the face of British music FOREVER!" (a statement that *might* have carried some reasonable weight back in the more manageable, focussed world of 1998 before the internet completely blew the doors of the world of media, music and information)....

A Lo Fidelity Sticker....

Their first single, Kool Roc Bass, arrived in a whirl of (soon to be deleted for a tiny illicit sample) controversy.... or so I remember, distinctly recalling the chase being on to snag a copy, although the reliable-ish Discogs and other web searches turn up no supporting evidence of a reissue on that or any other early track. NME, thankfully, is on hand to waft away the smoke, "The record (being the band's second single, 'Disco Machine Gun') was withdrawn after three days because a sample from The Breeders' 'Cannonball' had been used without permission. Around 8,000 copies were sold, making it a smart collector's item."....


Unfortunately Rob missed what was surely their apex, the 'Lo Fis with Fries' - likely the aforevisioned Breezeblock Tour - double-jointed extravaganza at the Glasgow Arches. Mind, he was fortunate enough to catch a truly memorable performance at a largely forgettable and regrettable* T in the Park in 1998, The Wrekked Train yelling (what very much sounded like) "Got your revolution! F**k your revolution!' over the scorching concluding organ crank of their mighty fine 'Many Tentacles Pimping On The Keys'....

(*There's nothing quite like standing alone in a dreary field simply making do with the James Taylor Quartet playing a Hammond Organ cover of 'Whole Lotta Love' to make a man question his very sanity/existence....)


Alas, that was pretty much it, The Wrekked Train quickly went off the rails - though he seems to have resurfaced just the once, here - leaving the rest of the band stuck at the station....


The remaining members then departed on a (not entirely unpleasant) spacey techno direction (bound for Ibiza) and were last seen passing through King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (supported by a quite capable Space Raiders) on their inevitable journey into obscurity*....


(*not entirely true! Seems Rob has to check out 2009s 'Northern Stomp' album and a further single, 2016's 'Darkness Rolling', that suggested another (as yet unrealised) fourth album was forthcoming....)


"What cha all stars feel is the real deal!"