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Siddeleys - Slum Clearance

  by Chris Jones

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Siddeleys - Slum Clearance
Label: Matinee Recordings
Format: CD

intro

Of all the reviews I've ever written, this one has probably troubled me more than any. And the reasons it's troubled me troubles me too.See, the first time I heard about the Siddeleys it was in an e-


Of all the reviews I've ever written, this one has probably troubled me more than any. And the reasons it's troubled me troubles me too.See, the first time I heard about the Siddeleys it was in an e-mail posting from someone who's musical taste I had grown to respect quite a bit. This same person had sent me a mix tape that had some incredible pop bands that I had never heard of and his enthusiasm for the Siddeleys had me very much anticipating hearing the songs on this CD. I received that e-mail message maybe three years ago and in that time I had heard others rave about the brilliance of the Siddeleys. My three year wait is nothing compared to those who have been waiting 10 years to get these songs and about four weeks ago the CD arrived in my mailbox. I put the CD in the stereo and began reading the story of the Siddeleys as told in the liner notes by Johnny Johnson, the voice and soul of the Siddeleys. Had the music not been playing, I would have thought the story I was reading was that of a late 80's UK punk band. Living in squats and squalor. Searching for others that shared the same feelings and musical aesthetics. Playing in dodgy clubs. Struggling to keep the band and themselves going. Johnny Johnson's story of the Siddeleys drew me in. The music however, was leaving me feeling a little short. My first thought was that the music sounded very dated. And why shouldn't it really? After all, this CD compiles songs that were written in the late 80's. This includes songs from the three 7 inches the band released, as well as a number of recordings from their BBC recording sessions. References to the Smiths and the C86 jangly guitar sound have been made by others, so if the music sounds like it's from the time it's from then I can hardly blame the Siddeleys for that, right? But I guess I did. After all the rave reviews and the feeling of great anticipation, I expected to hear something timeless in its brilliance. But I didn't. And that's when I began to feel troubled by the thought of writing a review of this CD. Surely I couldn't say anything less than "absolutely brilliant...an amazing band that finally gets their chance to be heard...buy this CD now!" What would the indiepop intelligencia think of me if I didn't write a glowing review? Wait, why do I care what they'll say? Uh-oh... Clearly, the rave reviews had given me higher expectations than was fair to judge the CD by and going against those rave reviews seemed like it would be blasphemous. My thought was that the dated-ness of the sound was making it hard for me to put the Siddeleys into the right context. I hadn't heard them when they were around, so there was no sense of nostalgia making me feel warm and fuzzy. And it wasn't so dated that I could overlook that aspect as I could if I heard some little known 60's pop band. And that's when it struck me to make a mix tape with the Siddeleys and other bands from the late 80's and early 90's. The tape has bands like the Pastels, the Wedding Present, How Many Beans Make Five, Heavenly, Biff Bang Pow, and the Wake on it. I also dug out the mix tape that I mentioned earlier that had all those great unknown pop songs on it and for the past 3 weeks I've spent a good amount of time listening to both of those tapes. With my head immersed in the sounds of ten years ago, I decided a few things about the Siddeleys. They have a "punkiness" to them that gives their pop a nice edge to it. This made many of their songs stand out from most of the other songs on the tape. Johnny Johnson's vocals at times reminded me of the Pet Shop Boys and at others of Heavenly (I don't really get the Morrissey comparisons, but maybe it's the lyrics more than the singing style).They sounded better to me when listened to alongside bands that were their contemporaries. And they were on the mixtape of great unknown pop bands that I got from the guy who first mentioned the Siddeleys to me. So where does that leave us? Well, I feel less troubled about this review than I did earlier. To me, the Siddeleys are a band I would have really liked had I heard them back when I first started listening to jangly pop bands. Hearing them ten years after the fact and after three years of rave reviews made them sound too dated for me to get really excited. But when put into context via my mixtape method, they did stand out at times and added a nice edginess. I'm sure the Siddeleys are just one of a countless number of bands that probably should have been heard by more people back when they were still a band. Those unknown bands who are kept alive by a handful of people on some e-mail list. The kind of people who hope and work to see that someday a CD like this will be released.



Track Listing:-
1 My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon
2 You Get What You Deserve
3 When I Grow Up I'll Be A God
4 Theft
5 Sunshine Thuggery
6 Are You STILL Evil When Youre Sleeping
7 Love With Blood
8 What Went Wrong THIS Time
9 No Names
10 Bedlam On The Mezzanine
11 Bribes and Bruises
12 Falling Off My Feet Again
13 Wherever You Go
14 Something Almost Brilliant Happened Last Night
15 Every Day Of Every Week
16 I Wish I Was God


Label Links:-
http://matineerecordings.com/
https://www.facebook.com/matineerecordings



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