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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2015
After being dropped by RCA and courted by various other would-be labels, PWEI signed to Infectious in the UK (staying loyal to their old supporter Korda Marshall), and were signed in the USA by Trent Reznor’s Nothing label. Their new harder sound has been described as industrial funk-metal.

There’s very few samples in the album apart from some Led Zeppelin and the Terminator 2 theme tune in “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”, a Ministry sample in “Everything’s Cool” and a ickle bit of Black Sabbath in “Familus Horribilus”, but PWEI had clearly developed through the troublesome The Looks or the Lifestyle phase and weaned themselves off their dependency on other people’s music.

I’m impressed by the remastering they’ve done on this expanded version – each track sounds better than ever.

“Ich Bin Ein Auslander”, sadly missing an umlaut, PWEI’s warning about how the politics of hate that were growing in the UK seems as applicable today as back then. The band had sprinkled revolutionary lyrics into other songs but this was the first overtly in your face political song released as a single and was coupled with support for the Anti-Nazi League at their gigs.

“Kick To Kill” exemplifies the hard edge of their newest sound and I find it quite difficult to listen to unless I’m in a bad mood.

The politics continued with their anti-royal ditty “Familus Horribilus”. It’s one of the more groovy and old stylee tracks on the album with its distorted vocals, noise loops and repeated claim that it will be funky.

“Underbelly” is loaded with ominous beats, vocal noise and guitars. The harshness of the lead vocal emphasises the message about an emerging society where enough is never enough.

“Fatman” for me makes me think of Carter’s Sheriff Fatman but I think refers to the power of media moguls through their distorted view of the world presented in newspapers and magazines – especially women’s magazines urging people to lose weight and aspire to be as beautiful as the airbrushed models who adorn their pages.

“Home” in comparison to the previous track has a nice laid back vibe and extols the virtues of being back home after all the gigging. It is also perhaps a clue to why the band members went their separate ways after temporarily riding on the crest of a wave and being on the brink of breaking America. Wishing to go AWOL isn’t where your head should be on tour.

“Cape Connection” is a dangerous track if you listen to it in the car. It seems to have the effect of increasing the weight of your right foot. The driving beat and urging guitars make you want to get there, wherever that is, faster. This song is basically about sex. It’s either that or drugs. Or rock ‘n roll.

I love the vocal based loops, big bass laden beats, electronic twittering (almost like Stakker in places), and the chanting in “Menofearthereaper”. Obviously related in some ways to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult this track sounds like a kind of Native American chant to keep Death from the doorstep.

The lyrics of “Everything’s Cool” contain the name of the album and the two fingers my friends are a Churchill-esque peace sign indicating that everything’s cool rather than the two fingered insult attributed to medieval archers. The lyrics paint a rather bleak picture of the future as do the driving guitars, but the message is one of rising above it all.

Seeing “R.S.V.P.” performed live gave it a great edge. Go go gadget pogo legs! Join the party or get out… It was a wonderful crowd pleaser.

For me “Babylon” is the weakest track on the album and it was no great surprise to learn from the sleeve notes that this was a leftover from the previous album. Unsurprisingly given the lyric it reminds me somewhat of John Lydon’s refrain in “Open Up” on Leftfield’s Leftism. What did surprise me is the radio version of the track which is tagged onto the end of the expanded release. This version sounds almost like a different track and while it perhaps loses some of its soulfulness in the mix it’s a lot easier to listen to than the original – which was usually interrupted by me either pressing the advance button to get back to “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” or pressing eject – ‘Eject Me’ the song seemed to be saying – the sad reverse of a previous track of theirs.

The other tracks appended to the album in the expanded version are also interesting additions, but are peripheral fluff in the satisfyingly deep belly button of this classic album.

On the Unreleased 1996 Album -
Also known as “PWEI96” or “The Lost Album”, this album was originally recorded in 1995 and 1996, but the band split before it was finished. Clint Mansell and Adam Mole came up with the album’s final track order and Clint made a few tweaks to a few of the tracks to make them presentable for this release.

Graham Crabb had departed by the time the tracks were laid down and Kerry ‘The Buzzard’ Hammond, a great guitarist who had already worked on many PWEI tracks, was recruited into the team. He added a great vitality to the music with dense heavy guitar riffs to accompany the complex percussion which seems to be a natural progression of style from Dos Dedos Mis Amigos.

I initially disliked the album and have held back a week or so since buying it to give it a proper write-up. The most notable thing for me was that Clint’s vocals at times seem strained and a little lost without Crabbie. As you would expect from a long-abandoned project retrieved from the annals of time, most of the tracks seem unfinished and there’s no clear indication of potential singles, perhaps with the exception of the amazingly sweary and infinitely catchy “Talent Plus Attitude Equals Dollars” which would have been career suicide if they had lasted long enough.

I am happy to report that it grew on me , I realise that it’s Clint’s vocals I prefer, and I feel it’s a shame that it wasn’t given a proper good polish and released on its own perhaps with some of the other unreleased demos as extra tracks.

“No Contest” seems like something that could happily have sat on the end of Dos Dedos Mis Amigos instead of the weak mix of “Babylon”; the drumming, chugging bass and harsh guitar licks and electronic noises wouldn’t have been out-of-place on a NIN album of the same period. It’s a shame they ran out lyrics and resorted to swearing repeated at the end of the track, but that kind of gets you ready for track nine.

“Hangman” has a grungy industrial sound with a more distorted vocal style than the previous track and conjures a dark sci-fi vibe with the only distortion free lyric seeming to refer to The Terminator films ‘they will never hear your screams above the noise of the machines’. The continuous high note alarm-like noise in the background adds to the uneasiness and tension in the track and to be honest it’s somewhat of a relief when it’s over.

“Dehydration” for me is probably one of the weakest tracks on the album despite sounding musically a lot like The Prodigy (perhaps because of the crunchy beats and the background ‘echoing milk bottle’ percussion). It’s sparse lyrics are weak and a little too repetitive even for PWEI.

“Out of Darkness… Cometh Light” is quite a laid back percussion based number and reminds me a lot of “X, Y and Zee” without quite so much cheese. The chorus is persuasive and the lyrics are well written. The tune has a lot of static, less guitar than a lot of tracks from this era and the electronic snickers, crackles and beeps are the stars along with a nice melodic slow-paced bass line. If I was to be picky it might have benefited from a choice film dialogue sample somewhere along the way.

“The Demon” is pretty much an instrumental and contains the film sample missing from the previous track and when the beat kicks in, you are immediately taken back to the sonic landscape of Dos Dedos Mis Amigos – very reminiscent of Menofearthereaper with its low almost Art of Noise vocal sample beats. This track seems like a fully fledged and polished track rather than a cobbled together mix from demos rescued from a filing cabinet and has an inexorable quality to it that you just can’t help but groove along to.

“100% is **it” seems a bit like “Fatman” from the previous album with some proper big guitar riffs and no obvious samples. There’s some odd Arabic horn loops in the tune which again remind me a little of The Prodigy. Again I thought the track was a little too chorus heavy and could have benefited from more lyrics.

“I-800-OUTSIDER” has some odd reversed vocal loops, monk-like chants and breathing in the background and in places (where the use of samples saying ‘listen’ and ‘is anybody out there’ are obvious) seems like a bit of throwback to This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! This is another complex layered largely electronic instrumental track which perhaps indicated Clint’s calling as a soundtrack artist.

“I Am The One” has a religious basis to the lyrics and quite a 70s rock to the guitars. Again there is a lot of multi-layered vocal loops along with multiple big beats and an almost continual wall of guitar riffs. This is the track that made me sit up and listen when I first heard the change of tempo in the middle of the track and then a descent into a cacophony of samples coupled with an oddly electronic dripping noise sounding like a mixture of holy water and crackling flame.

“Talent Plus Attitude Equals Dollars” is the catchiest and most easily accessible track on the album and is big beat before big beat was around with old skool PWEI sounds. Obviously slightly lacking in lyrics, you can’t argue with the intent of the main lyric coupled with a film dialogue sample of Mr Pink from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

“Point Blank:Zero Return” is a high tempo track with pretty disappointing vocals and not much in the way of musical creativity beyond the electronic blips and clever use of stereo in places. For me this is one of the weakest tracks on the album. “Big Green Head” has an obvious connection to The Incredible Hulk with its lyrical reprise of ‘you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’. The track is down there with “Point Blank:Zero Return” in terms of the value I place in repeat listening and it seems unfinished to me.

“I’m Gonna Get You Baby” seems to reprise “No Contest” and goes all the way back to the Grebo sound of Box Frenzy for its essence. If this had appeared on the debut album then it would have undoubtedly have been the stand out track and as such it is testament to the development of the band that it’s a bit disappointing to hear it as the last track on this album. There’s a This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! vibe to the track as well and when the cello sounds kick in with a minute to go it feels like a lament to overlooked opportunities and bad timing for a band that never really made it big despite their obvious talent and efforts to do so.
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on 24 April 2014
Dos Didos Mis Amigos (and its remix discs) was the last studio album PWEI released, it was a cracker and it seemed they had finally found the style and serious edge they were looking for after all those years.
I got really excited though when I heard that this re-release included a later album that was scrapped when the band split.
I'm not saying its a great album, there is only one track that really stood out but like me, if you are a collector of their work this is a great purchase.
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on 28 February 2017
Not only the best album from PWEI, the hard and heavy 'Dos Dedos', but also the unreleased 96 album. The latter finds PWEI moving into Prodigy territory with satisfying results. Essential.
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on 20 September 2015
The un-released album does not sound dated at all, and in fact it is a shame it was never "finished". Dos Dedos Mis Amigos is PWEI at their best: heavy guitars, techno and samples. A delight.
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on 22 April 2015
The darker sound we all knew PWEI had in them. If only they could have hung together longer.
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on 10 April 2014
everything you expect of the poppies excellent cd glad i have added it to the many poppies cds i have buy it
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The Pop Will Eat Itself reissue programme comes to a close with the last original album by the original lineup, recorded in 1994: "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos". At the time it felt a natural progression by the band, taking on board the heavier and more aggressive edge of contemporaries such as Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Revolting Cocks, moving away from the more flippant era of sampling to an angrier, and more abrasive sound. For most fans of the band, the true lure of this is the unreleased 1996 album - tentatively titled "A Lick Of The Old Cassette Box" - on the second CD, which takes the "Dos Dedos" template and pushes it much much further, so much further that the boat sank.

"Dos Dedos" sounds the same as ever ; a heavier, darker version of the band, playing much slower, grittier songs : with the trademark samples stripped out, and the high-octane adrenaline rush of the earlier material absent, "Dos Dedos" is a relatively intense record, punctuated mostly by the odd hit single, but, by and large, a new direction for the band. The hits - "RSVP", "Familus Horribilus", "Auslander" and "Everything's Cool" kept the bands trademark sound and reflected a new, more mature edge. Deeper into the record, material such as "Fatman", "Underbelly" and "Menofearthereaper" are amongst the least immediate the band recorded, instead slowly revealing their glories over repeated listening : but some of the songs themselves, simply aren't as strong as previous records. Admirable for never staying still, or repeating themselves, PWEI always seemed to be going somewhere and exploring something new, but the album has some weaknesses which time has not made more palatable. The real draw is the second disc, entitled "A Lick Of The Old Cassette Box" is a different thing altogether.

Recorded by the band after departure of Graham Crabb, his place is taken by The Buzzard, a greatly talented guitar player who appeared on lots of other PWEI records. As a sort of result, the record has swathes of dense, heavy guitar riffs, and a distinct absence of the lighter, faster material. Abandoned by the band near completion when they decided to split, the album is fine, but sounds more like a collection of songs without a cohesive album shape, instead of being a fully finished and fit for release record. Were it released at the time, no doubt it would have signalled a commercial downturn in the bands fortunes, at odds with the Britpop spirit of the era. It's not a bad record at all, but one that really would reward repeated listening, with an absence of obvious singles and with Clint Mansell as sole vocalist is lacking the bands trademark duelling-banjos style vocal interplay. The band played many of these songs live at occasionally shambolic, often spirited, incredibly loud, shows in 1996, and it comes as a long overdue reward for them to finally see release after 17 years, but the wait has not really been worth it. Songs such as "I Am The One", and "100% Is It" are finally heard again after years on scratchy bootleg cassettes, but they aren't really The Great Lost Pop Will Eat Itself Songs.

Where the reissue falls over, is in what is missing and there is easily space for : a multitude of officially released songs from the era (several cover versions and alternate mixes from compilation albums, some vinyl-only instrumental b-sides), as well as some radio sessions. "Games Without Frontiers, "Gimme Shelter", "Friends", "Zero Return", "Intense" and vinyl b-side/Japanese-only album track "Wild West" are all absent ; as well as a radio session cover version of "Come As You Are", and other radio sessions. The reissue features as bonus tracks an instrumental that made a vinyl b-sides, or the US only "Amalgamation" CD (in "CPI#2",), a demo of "Kick To Kill", as well as one radio session song, the radically different original approach to "Babylon".

Whilst the bands propensity for remixes was well known, and resulted in a huge 2CD remix set released, it is no surprise there aren't of those on here. Except a "Die Krupps" remix of "Auslander" that features a different vocal and some fragments of the songs home demo. The vinyl-only full length PWEI remix of "Auslander" is inexplicably absent.

"A Lick Of The Old Cassette Box" is a scant 42 minutes, which leave 37 minutes on the second disc for this extra material, most of which would easily fit on there. You could argue that perhaps 12 new songs is enough, but it's not as if the band will get another chance to reissue these records. On the other hand, as far as reissues and expanded editions go, "Dos Dedos" is an imperfect but weighty release, with 12 unreleased songs, 2 unheard versions, and 2 long deleted songs. So you get two albums, one never before released, for the price of one. At last.
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