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Almost as quirky as Volume 1 - some real gems
on 30 May 2013
Volume 1 of MOQ&D was a bit of a novelty record in some ways, as it crossed over all genres of originals and moulded them, some in a more extreme fashion than others, into BEF's electro-funk of that decade. "Wichita Lineman" and "Secret Life of Arabia" are two sonic gems that it would always be difficult to come close to. Volume 2 was very soulful, but oddly left me cold as it was just too polished. Even the likes of Green and Billy Mackenzie couldn't quite elevate it to the odd fascination with Volume 1.
So after a very very long time, and around a year later tha Martyn had originally intended this project to see the light of day, Volume 3 has arrived (albeit with sneak previews of 2 tracks, in rather too similar form, on the BEF Box Set from a couple of yrs back). Which predecessor does it most resemble?
Phew, I'm glad to say the eclectic mix of tracks, vocalists and arrangement styles here place it very much as a natural successor to Volume 1, except the production is possibly a wee bit more modern sounding. We get semi-industrial/glitch drums and bleeps accompanying "I Get Wild", an incredible opener by Kim Wilde, and some mock-horn loops as intro to Green's rather juddery second track. Until well over the halfway mark this collection is very strong, and as challenging (it doesn't seem a novelty record to me these days) as the first LP ever was. We get some sublime pop moments, some breathy vocals, some treated strings (some of which are real), lots of space and even Glenn Gregory and Boy George contributing 2 tracks each! George's selections are both quite different in approach, "Dog" probably being the most difficult track on the album. I disliked H17's cover of Associates' "Party Fears Too" on Naked As Advertised, as it was out of place and dragged a bit, but here it sits more comfortably, and really works (it sounds like it could be the same mix?)!
However this album is over 70 mins so there are going to be a few tracks that don't quite make the grade, and to be honest "Smalltown Boy" and "Co-pilot to Pilot" (particularly as this closes the album - weakly) are tracks I may skip in the future. It's not that they're bad, but they just aren't very creative (and we have heard them in full before).
I plumped for the 2-CD version, and whilst some tracks work as instrumentals, they do seem to be just the backing tracks, with no additional lead instrument added to keep things fresh. When they work, they are great.
Packaging is really nice.
If you liked Volume 1 then I would recommend this, but maybe the 1-CD version unless you really must own everything Martyn and co produce (in the instrumentals Ian's presence is still missed).