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Monday, November 10, 2008

(the) Mighty Lemon Drops - Laughter~ / Sound*

Name: (the) Mighty Lemon Drops
Album: Laughter~, Sound*
Year: 1989~, 1991*
Style: Brit-Pop
Similar Bands: Midnight Oil, INXS, The Alarm, Lilac Time
"One-Word" Review: Reliable-Pop
Based Out Of: UK
Label: Sire, Reprise, Warner
Laughter - Cover & Back & CD

Laughter - Interior & Liner Notes
Sound- Cover & Tape
Sound - Interior & Tape
Laughter (1989)~
  1. At Midnight 4:29
  2. Into the Heart of Love 2:56
  3. Where Do We Go From Heaven 5:41
  4. The Heartbreak Thing 6:18
  5. One in a Million 4:37
  6. Written In Fiction 3:35
  7. Th Real World 5:53
  8. All That I Can Do 4:32
  9. Second Time Around 3:53
  10. Beautiful Shame 3:31
  11. Rumbletrain? 5:15
Sound (1991)*
  1. Too High 3:48
  2. Unkind 2:36
  3. My Shadow Girl 3:20
  4. Marry's Poem 1:29
  5. Always 5:34/
  6. Big Surprise 3:47
  7. Cold, Cold Heart 4:01
  8. Annabelle 3:12
  9. You Don't Appreciate Anything 4:01
  10. Colorful-Loving-Me 4:50
  11. Ready, Steady, No! 2:45
Album Rating (1-10):~Laughter: 7.0
*Sound: 8.0

Members & Other Bands:Paul Marsh - Lead & Backing Vox (Active Restraint)~*
David Newton - Electric & Acoustic Guitars, vox (Active Restraint , The Wild Flowers, Revolux, Fonda)~*Auto-Harp,Keys*
Marcus Williams - Bass, vox~* Vibraphone*
Keith Rowley - Drums~*
Tony Linehan - Bass (Active Restraint)~
Stevie Lang - vox~
Rich E. - vox~
Ian Devaney - Brass~
Andy Morris - Brass~
Alex White - Keyboards~
Louis Jardim - Percussion~
Mark Wallis - Produced & Engineered~
Richard Evans - Asst. & Tape Jockey~
Tim Palmer - Producer~
Simon Vinestock - Engineer, Producer~
Sven Taits - Engineer~
Karl - Asst Engineer~
Simon Fowler - Photography~
Mick Lowe - Sleeve Design~
Simon Esplen - Sermon Management~*
Cerne Canning - Sermon Management~*
Andy Paley - Producer, Percussion, Keys,Harmonica, Auto-Harp*
Mark Linett - Record*
Rooster Cosby - Percussion*
Angelo Bruschini - Guitar*
Pete Peck - Asst*
Sarah - Asst*
Greg Jakobok - Sleeve*

Unknown-ness: I picked these albums up some years ago, although I do not remember how or when. Going through my CDS, I saw Laughter, and knew that I had a tape of their too, but I don’t think I ever listened to either. I know they were part of the twee- British movement in the late 80’s early 90’s, but I don’t really know their sound or them at all. Perhaps I heard of them through NME back in the early Blur following days, and got their albums through association…but again, there is no way to be sure.

Album Review: Laughter~The album starts off with “At Midnight.” Swirling electric echoes resonate and increase in volume. Drums kick in and march us through a foggy evening, representative of the track’s name. The vocal style is similar to Midnight Oil, and jangley guitars lighten them mood. The power behind the song makes it very anthemic. “Into the Heart of Love” starts off with a catchy guitar hook, and basic radio friendly song-format. The chorus through the chorus feels like the chanting of Midnight Oil again, otherwise, the verse is similar to INXS. But it is another very powerful song. “Where Do We Go from Heaven” makes me think of the Smiths….granted, I don’t know much about the Smiths either, but this song has the usage of a downturned syllable at the chorus’s end; which comes off dark. I know Morrissey is fond of using this style in his music. The end of the song kinda breaks down and loses cohesiveness as the chorus echoes and the music stops. “The Heartbreak Thing” picks up with warmer jangley guitars and punchy drums. The chorus is a fun rising and falling of melody. Big, long musical breaks (and the harmonica) make the song drag along for quite a bit longer than it needs to be. “One in a Million” is a slow moving quiet song. I imagine this to be the song the band plays to begin after an encore. Just the singer comes out for the first two minutes, then the rest of the band kicks in with more energy, and the song comes to fruition. It rides back and forth in its quiet and loud moments, making for a great concert moment, drawing the crowd back into the show. “Written in Fiction” features loud guitars and a fun, vibrant “brass” section too. Here his voice is more Hutchinson in verse and more Garret in the chorus (INXS & Midnight Oil respectively). “The Real World” carries the same fun, upbeat vibe from the previous track. It is a little more rocking, but still very positive, and brings the brass back in the chorus. There is a very rocking guitar solo about 2.30 in. Then after a minute or repetitive chorus chanting, a little breakdown comes in, but it just reverts back to the same, unchanged place. The song ends in a fade out, but an unusual minute long acoustic “hidden track” finishes out the song on the CD. “All That I Can Do” comes rocking back with the same ingredients: guitars, solo, brass accents, and a driving melody. “Second Time Around” uh-oh...there must be a scratch along this track…cause it is not playing very well….OK…scanning ahead to about 1:30 in the song…This song makes me feel like listening to Lilac Time or the Three O’clock, both bands I like a lot. The chorus is really good, and the song is simple in a very good way. It is a shame about the scratch; I think this may be my favorite track. It takes a bit to end, and then “Beautiful Shame” takes over boldly. It starts off simple too, verse over simple bass and guitar, and a skipping drum beat. And the chorus is a layered vocal effect, giving the sound a strong thickness. “Rumbletrain?” oozes the exact feeling of that image from the start of the chugging guitar and sliding sound of sawing strings. INXS vocals begin in this stomping, moving song. It sounds like a simple song, without many complicated parts, so it is simple in a bad way this time. Just as you think it is going to end early, it comes back loudly at first, and settles back into the same tired chorus. A bunch of soaring sound effects, talking, lead guitar and the steady drum & bass beat wind down the album, ending in a full on-stop.

Sound* “Too High” starts off the album with a chorus of church bells, then electric guitars kick in followed shortly with the drums. There is more raw, electric energy on the first few seconds of this song than on all of Laughter. It is a very catchy song, with fast vocals, that end with the title echoed over and over again. It winds down slowly, with more phantom vocals underplayed in the background. And a single bell (accompanied by a zoob-tube) ends the track. “Unkind” is a fast paced 60’s pop number. It is very catchy, straight forward track, with perfectly layered chord changes, and melodic vocals. And the song ends with a flurry of drums and repetitive vocals. “My Shadow Girl” is a 60’s psychedelic song. You can hear the wavering in his voice as he sings the word girl. The song is electrified with loud and heavy guitars at points, but over-all, it maintains the psych-effect. For all intent purposes, the song ends a minute before the track is done, and the song is jammed out on for another minute with heavy bass and electric guitars. “Marry's Poem” begins with electric sound effects, a catchy, jittery bass groove, xylophone and choral vocals in the background. It ends abruptly after a minute and a half with a kind of digital manual stop, and “Always” picks up after a count off. The tempo of the song is changing landscape. The loud and heavy chorus makes me think of a cheery Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. And the bare bones verse relies on the melody of the words. Without being too generic, this is a very British sounding song from the early 90’s Brit Pop era.

Side 2 begins with “Big Surprise;” a drums and dancy bass driven brit-pop song. The chorus again harkens back to the notion of 60’s psych hidden under the grandeur of 90’s production. It even reminds me a little of Game Theory. The song continues to end and restart, until it hits the psych heavy repetitive ending, which fades out and back in just when you expect it to be over. “Cold, Cold Heart” is a honky-tonk, bluesy song, set off with parallel harmonica and bass lines. This is the most INXS song on the album. It is a little long and repetitive for its own good, though. “Annabelle” (not related to the amazingly awesome Hail Social song by the same name) brings us back to the catchy 60’s jangley pop number. The pace, strength, and catchiness of this song in all its little sections make it stand out as the best track here. The bridge builds so amazingly in anticipation to the chorus of the drawn out crooning of the “Annabelle,” that you cannot wait for its delivery. “You Don't Appreciate Anything” features bass only, shortly followed by drums, and then typical shoe-gazer style guitars. This song feels like all the energy was drained out from the previous song. It is a head nodding tune, a ballad in its nature, hidden under brit-pop production. “Colorful-Loving-Me” is a throwback to their earlier material. It has a familiar guitar sound if you’re a Smiths fan (I think), and is more anthemic than anything else on the album. Its steady march goes on and on, well past its welcome. “Ready, Steady, No!” is the final statement from the band, heavy on the bouncy country bass. It fits in with “Cold Cold Heart” very well, but as a way to end the album, it feels like a poor representation. And the album ends with a fade out.

The evolution is somewhat in reverse when comparing these two albums in time line history with many other bands. Sound, the later release, is a much harder record than the previous Laughter. Perhaps it was just the style of production at those two times, but The Mighty Lemon Drops do both styles very well. They maintain their similarities to INXS through out both records (mostly in vocal style). They were a solid, reliable band, and I hope to pick up some more of their material if I see it in the used and discount bins along my travels.

Stand-Out Track:
~Second Time Around
*Annabelle

Links:
Mighty Lemon Drops - Wikipedia
Mighty Lemon Drops - Myspace
Mighty Lemon Drops - Allmusic
Mighty Lemon Drops - In Everything You Do - Archive
Mighty Lemon Drops - Trouser press
Mighty Lemon Drops - Last FM

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