Somewhere in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, there’s a law that goes something along the lines of “Actors shalt never the hell attempt to string a tune together, on account of it will most likely be pretentious pish.” Who would question this judgment? To be honest, some of those laws about homosexuality and maybe the ones about you can’t eat prawns and stuff, some of those things are a little bit “daft as fuck”, as many theologians have stated. The one about actors should stick to the acting, though, that one gets The Duke’s vote, let me state for the vinyl.
Who in their right mind wants to listen to, say, those records Johnny Depp made a while back? Who but the most committed of sadists would wish to endure the Russell Crowe album?
Mind you, I hear the Billy Bob Thornton record is highly reasonable, but I wouldn’t know on account I haven’t heard it. He was, however, very entertaining in the film were he acts as Santa but its funny cause he has sex in the bum and stuff.
So, then, what happened is that The Duke was fairly cautious when it came down to listening to the album Mad Brilliant by Ghost Of The Robot.
In case you didn’t know, Ghost Of The Robot is none other than the band fronted by the fella from Buffy What Slays The Vampires, the Spike fella, ie, the one with the faux-cockney accent and the spiky blonde hair. He might have a real name, but I’ve searched like, three websites, and none of them mention the fucker.
I already knew he had a fair old voice to be getting on with, in a kind of endearingly untrained kind of way. The musical episode from Season 6 of Buffy had that song where he did the rock number about Let Me Rest In Peace For Fucks Sakes, and so on. It was very catchy.
Everyone knows, though, that the one Tara sung was at least a whole lot better.
Tara doesn’t show up on this record, but hold on just a second, because the thing is actually rather damn good. Surprisingly so.
I’d go as far as to say that even if Spike wasn’t the singer, there’s a chance this would still appeal to The Duke on account of the really rather good songs contained herein.
Most rock bands fronted by Actors like nothing more than to have maybe twenty minutes worth of guitar solos in the middle of every composition, since shit, man, its Johnny Depp or someone who’s doing the wanking. Who’s gonna tell Johnny Depp to stop fucking around? Not me, that’s for damn sure, on account of he was amazing in Ed Wood, and that right there entitles him to any amount of half-arsed “jazz” toss.
These Ghost Of The Robot fellas, though, the longest track they have doesn’t even breach the five minute mark. And better still, pretty much every damn number is memorable, as in, catchy as hell and well worth a minute or two of anyone’s time. It’s sort of lo-fi grungy punk malarkey, with emphasis on the melodies. The lyrical concerns, also, are pleasingly adolescent.
David Letterman, for instance, centres on the refrain;
“Wouldn’t it be nice if I could be David Letterman?
Wouldn’t it rad if I could be your favourite TV personality?”
The irony, of course, is that he already is, and was even in that programme about the vampires and the witty pop-culture jokes and so on.
Valerie, a pleasing bluesy number, opens with the line; “I’ve got an old Smiths record, and I put it on endlessly.”
He doesn’t say what record it is, but it’s obviously not, say, their horrendous cover of Golden Lights. It’s obviously something fucking good, since he’s picked up plenty of the old “songcraft” from it.
Mad Brilliant deserves the highest accolade you could give such an enterprise, which is, it stands up regardless of the personalities involved. So often these things sound like the folks involved were having a blast “cutting-loose” and all that, but to The Duke’s ears it’s usually as much fun as the time I got caught stealing from the collection plate when it wasn’t even me, man, it was the reverend’s daughter.
Do The Bartman, Motherfucker.
This here authentically sounds like the band were having a right old time, and for once, it translates. I wasn’t expecting much, even though that MPEG you can find here and there that has Spike singing Something In The Way by Nirvana was actually quite good. It’s all fine and dandy pulling off a cover version, but you better hope your own stuff can stand up alongside. Turns out, you wouldn’t really bat an eyelid if something from Mad Brilliant popped up in the set after that song by Eddie Vedder or whoever.
It’s never self-indulgent, never sounds like a fella playing a load of shit just because he knows folks will buy it cause he was in The Sarah Michelle Gellar Show. It’s the kinda stuff folks put out because they have faith in it. Barring the tin-box production values, there’s nothing here that couldn’t sit snugly in the Top 40.
Some of them are even worth a tap on the old “repeat” button. Second track, Vehicles Shock Me, is wonderful, and there ain’t a whole lot that lets the side down, to be honest. The crooning intro to Dangerous is one of those euphoria-inducing moments you so seldom experience, one of those shiver-in-the-spine affairs. And, of course, it’s even more astounding since, in all honesty, The Duke expected this to stink like a week-old sack of slurry.
Mad Brilliant came to The Duke via some back-alley methods, and, far as I can gather, this thing is nigh-on impossible to find outside of seedy neon-bathed whorehouses or Kazaa, the online equivalent. That right there is nothing less than a damn shame, is what. Ghost Of The Robot, horribly arse bandname aside, are as good as pretty much any guitar driven ensemble a fella might wish to name.
They bound with glee from garage-rock shindigs to almost country-esque ballads like the frankly remarkable Angel. You might think that one was a song about his old cast-mate, but no, it’s about a woman, since Spike probably doesn’t find that moody bastard from the telly the least bit attractive.
If you can find this, then pick it up. Seriously, you’ll be surprised is what The Duke predicts.
Don’t tell anyone, but I hear that if you Were To Look Here, you might even get some sense of what these folks sound like.
Stop The Motherfucking Press – I just found out that the store section of The Band’s Website has some CD’s for sale, but most are sold out at present.
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