Fuzzbox - Big Bang!
published: 28 / 4 / 2013
Fiona Hutchings reflects on all girl Birmingham-based alternative rock group Fuzzbox's 1989 third and final album 'Big Bang', which has just been released in a new double edition
I requested this to review because it one of my closest friend’s favourite album of all time, and I have never listened to the whole thing. After the untimely death of the multi-talented Jo Dunne from cancer last October, the Queens of the Galaxy seemed to burst back into the musical universe of many. For the space cadets that never lost the faith, losing Jo was a dark day indeed. From their loud, proud, colourful, punk hair period to the military meets film star slick glamour, We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It were always stylish and uncompromising. Despite several singles reaching the UK top 30 and Brian May providing guitar licks one of those, Fuzzbox’s tenure as chart darlings was all too brief. ‘Q’ gave ‘Big Bang’ 4 out 5, while ‘NME’, ‘Smash Hits’ and even ‘Record Mirror’ championed them too. Maybe the world just wasn't ready, maybe their record company’s decision to ditch a firm fan favourite 'Fast Forward Futurama' as a single and release a Yoko Ono cover instead was to blame or maybe it really was “musical differences”, but Fuzzbox were never as big as they could have been. In the end it really was a five year mission for Fuzzbox, and in 1990 it was over. Twenty years later they reunited, released a version of 'Pop Muzik', toured and then disbanded again. The real questions are whether ‘Big Bang’ stands up 24 years later, and whether the second disc featuring seventeen remixes is worth the effort of pressing play. The first CD bursts out of the gate with 'Pink Sunshine', which sounds as fresh and fizzy as it did all those years ago. 'Fast Forward Futurama', the single that never was, mixes driving electronics and angelic vocals. 'Jamaican Sunrise' sounds a little dated, but 'Walking on Thin Ice' smoulders with breathless vocals and the bat of heavily mascared eyes. 'Versatile for Disc is and Parties' is overly long and self involved, but hit single 'International Rescue' is impossible to resist. 'Self', the track which involved Brian May, boasts very 80's wailing guitars and a-ha-style keyboard. On one hand 'Irish Bride' seems a little out of place, but on the other its sweeping soundscape draws you in anyway. Sadly 'Beauty' draws the album to a close with more of a whimper than a ‘Big Bang’. The bonus material on the second CD is going to be marmite; such is the way of expanded editions. There are three remixes of ‘Walking on Thin Ice’, and ‘Pink Sunshine’ appears in both remixed and acoustic versions. There are B-sides, rarities and the odd exclusive. For the most part though your opinion on this CD will be based on your tolerance for remixed, longer versions of songs you already own, and your opinion on why songs are B-sides or indeed rare. ‘Big Bang’ is mostly a very strong album that withstands the test of time. If this new version helps bring it to the attention of those that missed it last time or weren't actually born until after Fuzzbox fizzled out, then so much the better.
|Fiona Hutchings talks to Vix from 80's all girl pop punk icons and C86 act about her band Fuzzbox's extraordinary career|
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