Review: Jack Foley
DEATH in Vegas celebrate their success with Concrete Records
from 1997 to 2002 with the release of Milk It, a best
of compilation that takes in the albums Dead Elvis, The Contino
Sessions and Scorpio Rising.
Latest effort, Satan's Circus, is not included, since
it marks a new direction for Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes on
their self-funded label, DRONE.
With their first three albums, however, Death in Vegas placed
themselves at the forefront of the genre-splicing music movement,
seamlessly merging rock, punk and dance and attracting some great
collaborators in the process.
Iggy Pop cropped up on the memorably sadistic Aisha,
while the likes of Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Oasis'
Liam Gallagher also contributed memorable cuts.
Milk It includes the obvious collaborations, as well
as some fine stand-alone work in its own right.
Dirge, for instance, is a classic slow-builder, combining
elements of electronica with rock, all offset by a dreamy, blissed
out female vocal by Dot Allison singing 'la, la, la'. It was used
to memorable effect on Levis' twisty jeans adverts.
Eighties throwback, Hands Around My Throat, which also
cropped up on an advert, is a sleazy, dark little number that
recalled the brilliance of Aisha.
While Dirt, from Dead Elvis, offers a promising
glimpse of the potential Death in Vegas fulfilled with later albums.
Of the collaborations, Gillespie's haunting Soul Auctioneer
is jam-packed with gutsy, painful lyrics such as 'eggs bearing
insects hatching in my mind', all set around a driving beat.
While Gallagher's anthemic Scorpio Rising is a psychedelia-laced
gem which has since been regarded by even Liam himself as one
of the best things he's ever recorded (one is left to lament the
loss of Death in Vegas from the forthcoming Oasis album).
The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, crops up on So You Say
You Lost Your Baby, another slice of psychedelia that comes
complete with the sort of Sixties-based melodies and guitar rifts
that wouldn't seem out of place on an Austin Powers soundtrack.
If there is a niggle, it's that disc one of the two-disc set
doesn't have enough on it to properly reflect the scope of Death
in Vegas' work.
Hence, classic album cuts such as Neptune City, from
The Contino Sessions, and Help Yourself, from
Scorpio Rising, don't get a look in.
That said, the special bonus remix CD includes some really good
work from The Polyphonic Spree (Scorpio Rising), Two
Lone Swordsmen (Neptune City and Rekkit) and
Adult (Hands Around My Throat) which showcases a different
side to some of the album material.
It serves to ensure that this best of collection offers something
a little bit more than the norm for retrospectives - old favourites
mixed with some of the 12"s you might not have got your hands
on along the way.
A quality double album from a couple of genuine music pioneers.