Smashed And Grabbed

Steve Sutherland

21 March 1992

Melody Maker

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Submitted by: Inge Klinkers

SMASHED AND GRABBED

STEVE SUTHERLAND

SMASHED! THE POWERHAUS, LONDON

HAVE you noticed how all sorts of people have suddenly been losing sleep over Value For Money? Unlikely people like the brothers Reid, who made a virtue of never giving a toss for any audience before, no matter how hostile or adulatory. Now, I'm not saying Rollercoaster is necessarily a bad idea. Far from it. It's just that I find all this sudden altruism a little suspect. Let's get real: the Mary Chain couldn't sell out a national tour on their own. Neither could the others. Rollercoaster is hype, safety in numbers. It's simple as that.

For true honest-to-goodness, creative VFM, get on down to Smashed! Five new bands eagerly making a name for themselves, fighting for attention, tension in numbers, all the excitement of the unknown and unexpected. This is the way the wind's blowing. I don't need to go to Rollercoaster to know what the bands are gonna be like. But I sure needed to be here tonight.

Okay, let's go. LUDICROUS LOLLIPOPS. I mean, how sod an individual are you to call your band Ludicrous Lollipops? You go to all the trouble of finding a place to rehearse, scrimping and saving for instruments, firing 10 drummers and 15 bassists, smacking the singer in the mouth when he says you can't play, breaking up, making up, finally getting the right line-up, writing a few songs, putting up with the neighbours complaining, hustling around for a few precious gigs and when it comes time to print the posters, you sit around a table in your local pub, stare at all the scraps of paper with all the suggestions scribbled down, and the best you can come up with is Ludicrous Lollipops!

Hey lads, you're effectively f***ed. No one will take you remotely seriously with a name like that. You will never play Madison Square Garden. You will never snort cocaine from the cleavage of a Vanessa Paradis lookalike. What's more, if you call your EP "Scrumdiddleyumptious", you will never amount to anything other than wannabe Senseless Things and, hey, how sad is that?

BLIND MR JONES are obviously as hung up on heroes as the 'Pops, it's just that their heroes aren't as useless. BMJ wannabe The Cure, gaze at their shoes an awful lot, sometimes use a flute to needlessly provide all the squeaky bits your imagination usually fills in between the guitars, and are so reluctant they make Moose look like Queen. Occasionally, though, they hit a moment all of their own, arrive at a peak above their current plateau. It's possible, in time, that they might climb even higher.

WONKY ALICE ('nother naff name) obviously don't wannabe anybody, but why the weird obsession with the Batman theme? Too whimsical to ever amount to much more than a novelty, they are - can you handle this? - the wacky offspring of The B52s and Marillion, which is not altogether the inverse of a compliment. Perhaps schizophrenia's too harsh a word for their deliberate wackiness but any band that features bassist Karen, the epitome of cool in black leather, and singer/guitarist Andrew, the nabob of nerd in blue dungarees, is as hard to love as it is to ignore. Sometimes they emerge from whatever quirky universe they inhabit to create passages of almost pastoral beauty but these glimpses of paradise lost just make me mad at all the other daft doodling.

In years to come, the folks from Wonky Alice will sit their grandchildren on their knees and tell them they were once on a bill with SUEDE. And the nippers won't believe them. Suede are really so much something special that, like that Pistols gig at the 100 Club, thousands will claim in the future that they saw them here tonight, giving glamour mouth-to-mouth with the utmost shabby elegance and audacity.

Suede are a magnificently sexy little number. Brett Anderson, the skinny, suave seducer who pats his own arse with an imaginary riding crop, swoops through "Metal Mickey" like Morrissey never shuffled into stand-up comedy (Post-shoegazing, ain't it strange how great vintage Smiths sound?). Theatrical angst drips from their every manicured pore. One warped ballad begins "I was born as a pantomime horse," the information revealed with such mock-anguish that criticism of all the lovelorn also-rans is not so much implied as signposted in sighs 100 feet high.

"Have you ever tried it that way?" pleads the wickedly weasley Brett, not in the least bit interested in whether we have or not. This is the premier prima donna band we've been praying for. The sons of Bowie's camp little brothers, Suede are already the future all the rest will be forced to reckon with. Their demo tape is better than any album likely to be released this year. "The Drowners" is Hamlet in a tutu. They're English as ninepence and smell of the leathered backseats of Fifties Vauxhalls. "Moving" prowls its bass along the playground railings, boasts about its 16-hole boots and gets pretty catty - "I wouldn't give a shit if your bicycle's in bits"! - before Suede flounce off and leave us longing.

We try to bring 'em back but bastard time won't allow it so lots troop off home while JACOB'S MOUSE do their best to numb our pain with some splendidly comic headbanging courtesy of the heavy, hairy and indubitably handsome guitar-humping Boothby brothers. While they thoroughly overhaul their disappointing "No Fish Shop Parking" LP, Sam Marsh, the drumming Mouse, bares his muscular torso and growls with all his considerable might. And they really are rather fine- blisteringly committed Nirvanaites who've already hit their own heights. Eekologically sound.

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