poison to the mind

25Aug/052

fucked by lawyers

Lo-Fidelity Allstars got lumped in with two different scenes on their emergence in 1997 - the then-peaking "big beat", and the never-got-off-the-sofa "skunk rock". More than anything, though, they were the first group of kids who'd grown up on acid house and the Happy Mondays, and formed a band informed by... or not informed by seeing any difference between rock music and dance music. In all their early recordings, there's no sense of the novelty excitement at "we're rapping, but over a metal band!" or "I painstakingly recreate my programmed arpeggios on a 12-string through a MIDI interface" wank that tends to infect even the most worthy efforts to blend genres - the Lo-Fis are just a "real band" playing "dance music".

They also had a fairly awesome stretch of bad luck - building on the buzz from their debut single and a Bond cover on Fierce Panda, the follow-up "Disco Machine Gun" was in the shops for about a week before lawyers stepped on an obvious Breeders sample (that didn't even get a solo in the 7" version! [or radio edit, whatever it was called]). The song got re-recorded for the album later as "Blisters On My Brain", but the way the sample struggles out of the murk of the long build and then collapses into the verse after a couple of seconds really works as a signifier - now we're getting into the meat of the song! Insult was presumably added to injury when, a year or two later, Moguai (was it?) put out a single that basically consisted of the same sample on a loop for four minutes while an unattended 303 farted along with it...

Lo-Fidelity Allstars - Disco Machine Gun

The second major blow came when, building on the buzz for their rework of a Pigeonhed track for that group's Emergency Overflow Cavalcade Of Remixes project, the band decided to revamp their remix and include it on the debut album, How To Operate With A Blown Mind. Fair dos - they'd rewritten enough music and recorded new vocals to mix with the original's, it was certainly enough of a Lo-Fi track by now for them to be proud of it. Unfortunately, while P-hed's label Sub Pop was manufactured and distributed by Warner Bros, the Lo-Fi's patron Skint was now in a M&D/licensing marriage with Sony - and all of a sudden, Warner publishers took objection to a slab of Prince-derived lyrics that Shawn Smith had used without controversy in the original song - having had their previous single withdrawn, the band now saw their album yanked from the shops and had to quickly re-record the track with that bit of Smith excised.

Lo-Fidelity Allstars (feat. Pigeonhed) - Battle Flag

Making the best of a bad situation, they released the retitled "Battleflag" as a single, and saw it become a hit in the US after being used in a bunch of TV shows - then just before heading over to tour on the back of this, lead singer/sleeve designer The Wrekked Train decided he didn't like the idea of becoming famous and chucked it to go back to working on the railways, or something. By now used to bouncing back, they simply reasoned that no-one over there knew what they looked like or how any of their other songs sounded, so carried on with DJ The Albino Priest standing in on Battleflag vocals. (Unfortunately, the loss saw them mutate into a smoother house outfit for the second album, but it has some nice collabs with Greg Dulli, Jamie Lidell and Bootsy.)

Buy:
The webstore of Skint Records still has most of their stuff for sale on 12" and CD. The LP version of How To Operate might even be the un-revised edition, who knows? Either way, it's a great record with one of the best opening tracks ever. Their DJ mix album, On The Floor At The Boutique, is pretty tops too.

You can still freely purchase the original remix version from Sub Pop, along with the non-remixed version on Pigeonhed's The Full Sentence album.

Bonus:
Just because I've been absent so long, here's an extra track for you: one of the B-sides from the single, "Disco Machine Gun Part II (Many Tentacles Pimping On The Keys)". It's not a James Brown-style part 2, or even much of a sequel, more an excuse for keyboardist The Many Tentacles to jam out like a mullet institute student, but this full-length version got sacrificed when the record was axed, so here it is for history's sake.

Lo-Fidelity Allstars - Disco Machine Gun pt II

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  1. “many tentacles…” was so good in that boutique mix.


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