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Various - A Box Of Odd

  by John Clarkson

published: 4 / 8 / 2004

Various - A Box Of Odd
Label: Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation
Format: CD


Surreal "always entertaining, often enthralling" compilation which showcases six of the bands on Sheffield's garage rocl/surf scene

Sheffield is best known musically for its synthesiser acts and heavy metal outfits. As proof that there is an alternative to these, and to herald the city's thriving underground garage and surf community, new local label, thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, has, however, been trading it wares since the beginning of the year. There have to date been three vinyl only singles, and now thee SPC has released its first CD album, a compilation entitled 'A Box of Odds', which features two tracks apiece from six of the acts-the Motherfuckers, Chuck, the Special Agents, Beachbuggy, G.G. Action and Texas Pete-from its scene. The compilation is exactly, as its title suggests, an oddity. Its packaging combines Monty Python style graphics with a set of hilarious sleevenotes, which, written in the style of a Victorian melodrama, come from the different points of view of a boozy reverend ; a ruthless baron, and the reverend's long suffering cockney houseboy, each of whom find their own box of odds with the aid of a hallucinogenic fungi. While most of the tracks stick to the traditional hallmarks of garage rock, lasting no more than three minutes, and gallop along in urgent 'Louie, Louie'' and 'Roadrunner' style, they also show themselves to be similarly surreal in humour. Instrumental surf act the Special Agents demonstrate themselves to be the most musically accomplished of the six acts on display, throwing together warbling, wacked-out keyboard effects and spiralling guitars on their two tracks, 'Guitars That Go Twang in the Night' and 'Our Man on Mars'. Ultra-trashy all girl group, G.G. Action get up to some man-bashing with their two numbers. The feedback-strewn 'Dirty Girl' is an ode to hedonism and on-night stands, with the girls in the band assuming the role of feisty bed-hoppers, while on the equally distortion-friendly 'Outta My Hair' the poor fellow who has had the misfortune to become involved with lead singer Penny Blackham is dismissed with a string of slapping put-downs ("I want to get down/I want some action/but you're so useless I can't get any satisfaction"). Texas Pete wins the award for having the track with the most intriguing name, 'Now I Got Worms'. Once one has got over one's initial disappointment that it is an instrumental, it proves itself to be a rather nifty Dick Dale-style instrumental with crescendoing, criss-crossing guitars and wonky sound effects. Another highlight comes from the Motherfuckers, who, amidst a barrage of squalling guitars and bellowed vocals on 'Get in the Goddamed Car', try to woo a girl into coming out with them with all the subtlety of a bunch of kidnappers. Iggy Pop soundalike Darren Chuck meanwhile pays testament to his own alleged stupidity on Carter USM-type chant-a-long 'No Brain', while on the rattling, ferocious punk of ' Kill 'Em All' he adopts a genocidal approach to solving Buenos Aires' bug problem. 'A Box of Odds' is an always entertaining, often enthralling romp. With a running time of just half an hour, and then with some extra hidden tracks from the Motherfuckers, Chuck and the Special Agents pinned on for die-hards at the end, the good people at thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation don't make the mistake of outstaying their welcome. In line with the songs that appear on the compilation, they keep things short, snappy and straight to the point, and the listener at the end wanting more. Often deliberately dumbed-down, those associated with thee SPC are more clever than they would perhaps like us to think. 'A Box of Odds' proves exactly what it has set out to and convincingly proves that Sheffield's musical terrain extends far beyond Def Leppard, Pulp and the Human League.

Track Listing:-
1 No Artist Untitled
2 The Motherfuckers - Make You Mine
3 Beachbuggy - The Driver
4 Chuck - No Brain
5 The Special Agents -Guitars That Go Twang In The N
6 Texas Pete - Superhero Stomp
7 GG Action - Dirty Girl
8 Beachbuggy - Death Ray
9 The Special Agents - Our Man On Mars
10 Chuck - Kill 'Em All
11 Texas Pete - Now I Got Worms
12 The Motherfuckers - Get Into The Goddamn Car
13 GG Action - Outta My Hair
14 Unknown Artist Untitled

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