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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Slaughterhouse six,
This review is from: ...If I Die I Die (Audio CD)Produced by Colin Newman of Wire 'If I die, I die' in its newly reissued form gives us a timely reminder of all that was weird and wonderful about the Virgin Prunes. Although the band is most likely to be classed among the Goth outfits of the early eighties due to their dress sense, they were never comfortable in this genre. Musically they come across as a heady mix of Krautrock, industrial, post-punk and at times quirky-pop.
The band were more interested in putting their audience through an artistic experience than entertaining them, often to startling effect in live performance. For one segment of the show, dubbed the 'Pig Children', the Two Frontmen Gavin Friday and Guggi would roll around in fake muck with Pigs heads, regressing themselves back to children. The theory being that the only truly honest things on the planet are animals and children. These themes were further explored in the wonderful follow-up to this album, 'Heresie'.
'If I die, I die' is undoubtedly the bands most fully formed creation and can be favourably compared to any other of the great albums of the period. This is an ambitious work with a suitably huge production to convey the weight of the dark musings of the vocalists. The album starts with 'Ulakanakulot', a short instrumental effective in building the tension which segues into 'Decline and Fall' with it's ominous thudding bassline. On 'Decline and Fall' Friday gives us his best Bowie impression (in his more histrionic moments) which is totally in keeping with the songs melody which resembles the title track from 'Station to Station'.
'Sweethome under White Clouds' would have us believe that the band were listening to recent Japan records like 'Gentlemen take Polaroids'. The sax line is very similar to Mick Karn's work on tracks like 'Methods of Dance'. The next track 'Bau-Dachong' is a definite highlight of the first side, the band really takes flight getting into a 'Throbbing Gristle' style groove. It's also the song in which the immortal line which gives the album its title is uttered. 'Pagan Lovesong' gives us the first truly chant-a-long lines of the album with "I had a weird dream, Look but don't touch!" A scintillating version was included on the live segment of 'Heresie' which is preferable to the studio version, due to the remarkable guitar riffing of Dik Evans (brother of U2's the Edge).
Dik really shines on that album with his waves of distortion, echo and feedback, he must be up there for consideration in the all time great anti-heroes of guitar. The live version reveals that the genesis of the song was probably the rap-rock records of 'The Clash' from their 'Sandanista' era, especially 'Lightning strikes'.
With 'Dave-Id is Dead', third vocalist Dave-Id Busarus gives us his thoughts on isolation over a PIL type backing. Dik even treats us to a Keith Levene style angular guitar solo while the bass and drums propel the song along. The first side of the album comes to a close with 'Fado' which is an Irish word meaning 'long ago'. This is an instrumental dominated by Dik's cyclical guitar line before a piano heavily treated with echo brings the track to a conclusion.
The Second side opens with the irresistibly dark 'Baby Turns Blue'. The track became something of an underground (death) disco hit as a result of its pulsing mechanised beats and catchy bass riff. The lyrics are what really set the track apart with the repeated refrain of "what do we do if the baby turns blue", Gav and Guggi take it in turns to sing the peculiar lines. This followed by an oddity (even by the bands standards) 'Ballad of the Man'. The track doesn't have any place on this album as it's a fully fledged genre prank pushed home with a straight face. The track is, as the title may suggest, a pastiche of several songs of Bruce Springsteen. The driving force behind the song is Dave-id who takes the lead vocal. The song has typical Springsteen lyrics and most resembles the "four-minute-operas" of 'Darkness on the edge of town`. Dik's guitar solo is a definite nod to Springsteen's on 'Streets of Fire' (I wonder if he played this on a telecaster?)
Following on from that excursion is the one of the best songs the band ever wrote 'Walls of Jericho'. The song has an anthemic quality with religious references which would place it alongside the kinds of things that U2 were doing on their 'October' album (Rejoice, Gloria etc.). The brothers Evans have never sounded so similar. 'Caucasian Walk' is the definite highlight of the album, the vocalists sound like John Lydon having a nightmare and the backing is extremely industrial. It features the classic line "Political problems, sexual frustrations won't end" amongst others. Chaotic live versions appeared on 'Heresie'.
The track 'Theme for thought' was a band favourite. It was bafflingly chosen to be performed on Irish chat-show 'The Late Late Show', which had a reputation for breaking young bands at the time. They performed the song with Gavin Friday sitting at a table with two girls and Dave-Id breaking through security to give out sweets to the audience. The conservative viewers were not amused by the subversive antics and the performance remains the most complained about broadcast in Irish TV history.
The final two tracks 'Chance of a lifetime' and 'Yeo' move the sound further into synthetic terrain with metallic beats recalling 'Joy Division' and a few muted lyrics bringing the album to a wonderfully abstract conclusion.
Alas the band would never be this focused again and we`d have to wait until 1995 for Gavin Friday's peerless album 'Shag Tobacco' to get the next instalment of brilliance. The reissue features exceptional sound quality and full lyrics. The album is simply a must for anybody with an interest in compiling the great albums of the early eighties.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How strange... yet how utterly brilliant,
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This review is from: ....If I Die, I Die (MP3 Download)This album and the band will absorb you into another world of music that perhaps you may not quite be ready for. This however is the best thing about the album and the band. You are literally taken aback by it's uniqueness and genius creativity. Not into all the usual clap trap about gushing reviews, lets just say if you buy this album the whole concept of music you had will cease to exist, this is difference at a whole new level. He who hesitates will fade away... buy it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Id take this to my desert Island,
This review is from: ...If I Die I Die (Audio CD)A long time ago in a place far far away a group of young men inspired by the ethics of punk rock got together to discuss how they could express themselves through art, performance and song. A mythical village was created to house these ideas and the young men began to name each other with monikers more akin to the vibe they felt toward each other such as Edge, Guggi, Dik, Bono Gavin Friday. More young men came and soon they split into two groups. One group called themselves Hype then Feedback then decided upon U2. This group went on to record some records and play some pop concerts and do some weird stuff with lemons etc.
However the other group became the legendary VIRGIN PRUNES and they taught us how to mix art with music with insanity with experimental performance with beauty with horror but always with class.
Ladies & Gentlemen ...Welcome to The Virgin Prunes - Strongman, Guggi, Dave-id Busarus, Gavin Friday, Mary, Dik, Pod.
If I Die I Die
The flagship of the catalogue, originally released in 1982 on rough trade, this a beautifully crafted re-issue with a slightly different album cover shot from the same stunning Ursula Steiger session. Package includes lyrics and further Steiger images.
When I bought this in '82 I loved it for it's pure `out there-ness' weird romantic notions mixed with a very weird group visually and a million miles away from the post punk dullness of the time. The two front men Guggi & Gavin Friday made much of their theatrical genius and Mary, Dik & Strongman put together a tremendous oft overlooked musical soundscape.
`Ulakanakulot' A lush instrumental that used to start may prunes gigs around the time it's the gateway to the album it sets the stage because before you know it you're in the middle of the next track `Decline and Fall' "take a dream and fly away" croons Mr Friday to the exact same guitar pattern that began the album haunting and hypnotic for sure. "Sweethome Under White Clouds" is a re-working of an older song but it fits perfectly within this album and is a much more polished attempt "we slept happily ever after". It puts me in mind of a native Indian chant with Guggi & Gavin taking turns on the verses and its got a fekkin trumpet in it. Great bass n drum stomp through this one."Bau-Dachong " again lush is the word, referring to the sounds intertwining with Gavin's' vocals "of this men shall never know". Guest instrument in this one is a didgeridoo!
"Caucasian Walk " is one of the fast paced live stompers (again that wonderful prunes bass n drum pounding that is a constant threat throughout this) with once again the deadly duel vox and Gavin's lyrics sums up a lot of all this really "....Like a crazy singer in a band that's lost the words" Guggi & Gavin at their most potent.
The aptly titled "Theme for thought" feels just like that with Dik's massive guitar intro which breaks into Strongman's bass hook whilst Gavin looms in with his spiteful vocals over an almost choral backing vocal. Then all hell breaks loose.... as usual... Guest instrument today is Saxophone.
"Walls of Jericho" like `Pagan' & `Caucasian walk' is a fast paced live favourite with the trademark double whammy twin vox assault.
Bonus cuts `Dave-id is Dead' (original b side to `Pagan Lovesong') and `Ballad of the Man' are performed by the bizarre yet compelling Dave-id Busaras Scott (who used to open many of the Prunes live shows with a spoken word dialogue concerning the strange world within which he lived).
The two singles of the time are both included here the awesome `Pagan Lovesong' (remember hearing Strongman's' bass intro and dashing to the dance floor) and `Baby Turns Blue' (The faculties of a broken heart) both featured heavily in alternative clubs around Europe even now!
This CD version comes with four bonus tracks, one of which is unreleased `Fado' a fitting little instrumental piece (the band were frustrated trying to fit lyrics originally so was left off the album) that leads beautifully into `Baby Turns Blue', `Yeo', another instrumental piece with a Busaras intro (B-side of baby turns blue 7"), `Chance of a lifetime' (b-side of Faculties of a Broken Heart 12") a more industrial abstract piece that would sit more comfortably on an earlier work, and the afore mentioned `Dave-id is dead'
Produced by Wire's Colin Newman this album wasn't as diverse as their previous output hence making this the album you need to get if you are not acquainted with the Virgin Prunes but are interested in taking a peep into this strangely beautiful / terrifying world.
One of the best albums of the Eighties, musically and lyrically
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: ...If I Die I Die (Audio CD)Brilliant band, great album. But I must say that recording cannot fully do justice to their performance. They were such a fantastic live band and were so much about performance and tongue in cheek psychodrama.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wrong samples,
This review is from: ...If I Die I Die (Audio CD)All the music samples are wrong- they are of the virgin prunes, but not from the 'If i die...' album.
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