Backseat Mafia Review Feb 2015

Posted on May 31, 2015

Arun Kendall — February 6, 2015

I have this deep suspicion that Cherry Red Records spend their time rifling through my album collection when planning on their next reissue. They certainly seem to have impeccable taste. The latest in a series of very well chosen gems is a reissue of what seemed to me to be a very obscure but much loved eighties album, Bedrock Vice, by Thrashing Doves. This is one album – their extraordinary debut- that has been constantly on my playlist since, dare I disclose, its release 27 years ago.

Thrashing Doves always remained an enigma to me – while the singles off this album were on high rotation on Australia’s youth radio JJJ, I was not aware that they made much traction here and seemingly faded into obscurity despite releasing two more albums under this name. I always nursed a feeling that I was the only person in Australia quite so enamoured.

Apparently the band’s ultimate demise was hastened by Margaret Thatcher’s declared love for the band after seeing Beautiful Imbalance video clip, a complete PR disaster in the eighties. Very curious given the nature of the band’s lyrics (which seem very anti-materialistic) but also explains why subsequent bands have acted very clearly to distance themselves from the unwanted attention of politicians (ie David Cameron and The Smiths).

The album’s singles set the pace for this album – Matchstick Flotilla, Beautiful Imbalance and Biba’s Basement. These are epic songs – catchy, poppy melodies undercut by dark lyrics and vocalist Ken Foreman’s cynical, yelping musings that lift the songs above the pack.  Check out Matchstick Flotilla with its sympathy for the plight of refugees:

Beautiful Imbalance perfectly captures their unique sound – a melange of acoustic jingle jangle melody with a synth spine, world weary singing and political overtones:

The other material is just as strong – Biba’s Basement seemingly supporting anti-consumerist terrorism with a beautiful ominous, driving bass line, and A Killer For You about unhinged obsession being a personal favourite of mine.

This reissue pays due respect to the album. It features the 12 original tracks plus six bonus tracks, all of which appear on a CD for the first time, and the album has been remastered for this release using, where possible, the original masters. The CD booklet features all of the original album artwork and has been expanded to include comprehensive sleeve notes written by the band – sharing their memories. Also included is a pictorial UK Discography and other memorabilia from the band’s archives.

The remastering has created a crisp, clear reproduction that captures the acoustic crunch of the original and keeps the instruments separate and distinct. Worth getting if you already have the original just for this alone, but the additional material is excellent too: a mix of live covers, obscure ‘B’ sides and remixes. If you do not know the band, it is a great introduction to a more considered intelligent side of eighties indie music.

The album is available to order now from here. I simply love it – I really think you should get it to understand why.

The track listing is:
Track Listing:
1. Beautiful Imbalance
2. Matchstick Flotilla
3. The Grinding Stone
4. Killer For You
5. Rochdale House
6. Biba’s Basement
7. Castroville Street
8. Magdalena
9. Tinderbox Man
10. Northern Civil War Party
11. Je$U$ On The Payroll
12. Hollywood Maids
Bonus Tracks
13. The All Night Chemist ^
14. Sympathy For The Devil – Live @ The Marquee ^
15. Je$U$ On The Payroll (Street Groove) ^
16. Self Infliction Crew ^
17. The Receiver ^
18. Mission Creep (A New Je$U$ On the Payroll)
(Previously Unreleased)

^ On Cd For The 1st Time