Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Duff Review: Hotknives "Razor Blade Alley" and Crabs Corporation "The Opium Eaters" b/w The Values featuring Neil Innes and Bedders "Madness" and Rude Boy George "Driving In My Car"

Jump Up Records/Specialized
Yellow vinyl 7" single

(Review by Steve Shafer)

This sweet slab of wax is the second single spun off of Specialized 3: Mad Not Cancer, the four-CD collection of Madness covers released in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK. The first excellent single featured King Hammond and Bim Skala Bim covering "Bed and Breakfast Man" and "Nightboat to Cairo" respectively--The Duff Guide to Ska review of it can be checked out here.

On the A side, Third-wave UK stars The Hotknives tackle Lee Thompson's "Razor Blade Alley," a precautionary story of unsafe sex with a prostitute that results in case of venereal disease ("I'm just too shy to check in, but this pain of pissing razors is cutting in"), keeping the jazzy vibe of the tune in the keys, but adjusting the guitar and rhythm section so that their terrific version is much more of an urgent ska tune. Argentina's Crabs Corporation transform Mike Barson's jazzy instrumental The Opium Eaters (from Madness' 1981 album 7) into an fantastically trippy and dubby early reggae cut.

On the B side, The Values featuring Neil Innes (of Monty Python and Rutles fame) and Bedders (Mark Bedford of Madness, of course) serve up a jaunty and slightly sardonic version of Madness' signature tune (Prince Buster's original "Madness") that's a cross between something you might expect to hear off "Life of Brian" and Benny Hill. Great stuff. I'm a member of Rude Boy George, so I can't objectively review our version of "Driving in My Car," but we've heard from many people that they like how we've successfully transformed what was essentially a quirky novelty track into (what we think is) a pretty great all-out ska song.

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