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Walkabouts - Prague

  by John Clarkson

published: 21 / 4 / 2007

Walkabouts - Prague
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Impressive and onvincing return to their rock roots by the Walkabouts on their new live album, 'Prague'

“We’re back to where we started here” says the Walkabouts songwriter and singer Chris Eckman, greeting his audience, as his band troop on stage at the start of their new live album, ‘Prague’. In 1995, Eckman announced that he was abandoning playing rock. The return to the group’s fold in 2003 of Michael Wells, the band’s bassist from 1984 to 1996, however, lead him to reconsider this decision, and in 2005, after nearly a decade of making music with a more symphonic and elegiac sound, the Walkabouts returned to their roots with the blisteringly abrasive and Bush-bashing ‘Acetylene’, the loudest and the angriest album of their 13 album and then 22 year career. At the time the limited-to-1500 copies ‘Prague’ was recorded at the Akropolis in the Czech capital on September 5th 2005, ‘Acetylene’ had been out in Europe just a little over a week. While the Walkabouts manage to cut the same fiery intensity and energy on stage as they did in the studio, it is perhaps not surprising that the five songs from ‘Acetylene’ on show here-‘Fuck Your Fear’, ‘Coming Up for Air’, ‘Devil in the Details’, ‘Whisper’ and the title track-, all of which appear in the first half of the album, move little on from the gusty, grinding originals. The second half of “Prague’ is much more revealing. There is a stunning, extended eight and a half minute version of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ from their 1993 album ‘New West Motel’, with spectacular drum work from Terri Moeller which moves from a shell shocked whisper to eventually exploding theatrically as Eckman, Wells and the group’s co-singer Carla Torgerson ebb and then swell their searing guitars gradually upwards. ‘Snake Mountain Blues’, a cover of an old Townes Van Zandt number which again appeared on ‘New West Motel’ and which was a live favourite before Wells left the band, is also resurrected, this time with special guest, former Willard Grant Conspiracy guitarist and Torgerson’s husband Paul Austin on acoustic guitar. Again extended to over eight minutes, it pushes Glenn Slater, the last member of the five piece’s jabbering, zany keyboards to the fore, and is equally feisty. Lastly, there is another cover, a gleefully exuberant version of the Buzzcocks’ ‘Something’s Gone Wrong’, in which the 1979 punk pop classic and, as Eckman tells his audience, his favourite band when he was 18, are given a convincing work over with spiraling keyboards and guitars. The Walkabouts return to their rock past may have been brief. In the time since they played their 2005 tour, the group, which took a four year break before recording ‘Acetylene’, has again fallen into hiatus. Eckman and Torgerson released under the name of Chris and Carla earlier this year the folk-electronica inspired ‘Fly High, Brave Dreamers’. Moeller has been concentrating with Paul Austin on her other band the Transmissionary Six, and the others have too been focusing on their own projects. Where the Walkabouts go next, if anywhere, remains to be seen. ‘Prague’, however, proves that, when they want to to, they can still rock out both with energy and conviction.

Track Listing:-
1 Fuck Your Fear
2 Coming Up For Air
3 Devil In The Details
4 Jack Candy
5 Whisper
6 Acetylene
7 Good Luck Morning
8 Grand Theft Auto
9 Snake Mountain Blues
10 Something's Gone Wrong Again

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Interview (2005)
Walkabouts - Interview
The Walkabouts have just released 'Acetylene', their first album of original material in four years,and their loudest and angriest album to date. John Clarkson talks to frontman Chris Eckman about why after a decade they have gone back to their rock roots
Interview (2005)
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Acetylene (2005)
Stunning new record from Seattle's acclaimed the Walkabouts, who have returned after a four year hiatus in recording with the fieriest and the angriest album in their 21 year history
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