DOPE SMUGGLAZ Double Double Dutch (Perfecto)
This, however, is rather more fun, despite being accompanied by a ludicrously whimsical press release that I won't insult your intelligence with by quoting from. (The band's own comments in the booklet are more worthy of careful scrutiny, if you can get past the ridiculously small print used). Despite being little more than a happy housed-up cover of the old Malcolm McLaren tune of similar name, cinematic string arrangements and tubular bells from Tindersticks and Gallon Drunk collaborator Terry Edwards help keep things interesting despite the weighty seven minute duration. Carl Puttnam, once (still?) of Cud, contributes vocal assistance to the somewhat less memorable second track "88-99", and there's a video of the main track as well, for those of us able to make use of such things. Not exactly rocket science, but streets ahead of Boogie Macs.DOPE SMUGGLAZ ALLSTARS Barabajagal (Perfecto)
DOPE SMUGGLAZ Dope Radio (Perfecto)
These are the latest single and debut album respectively from the maverick Leeds-based dance duo Dope Smugglaz, last observed in possession of an insanely infectious top 20 Malcolm McLaren cover, "Double Double Dutch". This time Tim Sheridan and Keith Binner breathe new life into the elderly Donovan/Jeff Beck Group duet "Barabajagal", with assistance and encouragement from those leading exponents of the ascetic lifestyle Shaun Ryder and Howard Marks. It's fun, in the same broad, knockabout fashion familiar to anybody who rightly grooved to "Double Double Dutch", and the review copy arrived packing a selection of equally banging remixes by Utah Saints and Moonchild. It does make you long for a time when the legendary Mr Ryder will abandon his current stock-in-trade, the comedy cover version, and get back to writing his own songs again, but until he pulls his faculties back together this will do just fine.
"Dope Radio" is the Dope Smugglaz debut long player, and it's sweet and dandy in a sub-KLF high concept sort of way. Loosely linked into what appears to be a celebration of pirate radio programming - a kind of "The Who Sell Out" for the dancefloor generation, you might say - it seems to revel in its own cheesiness, be it those gloriously celebratory comedy cover versions, the Stephen Hawkins-esque disembodied electronic voice that turns up to lecture on the delights of the second Summer of Love or Howard Marks' good-natured drawl about the hypocrisy of our government's drugs policy. Elsewhere you can deconstruct the music making process in the comfort of your own armchair with the assistance of "The Bass That Started It All", marvel at the asbestos larynx of Carl Puttnam - tragically underemployed since the demise of his band Cud - as he belts through "88-99 RIP", sounding not a little like ABC's Martin Fry, or celebrate female achievement on "Yo Momma And Her Momma Too", which namechecks a galaxy of greatness from Marie Stopes to Mo Mowlem.
"Dope Radio" might not be a great album, and the jokes could wear painfully thin on repeated listenings, but it's undoubtedly fantastic fun at this point on the curve, crammed with wry humour, genuine affection for the cultures it celebrates and drops a selection of banging tunes in on the way. In these lean times when even reliable old stalwarts such as Orbital and The Chemical Brothers fail dismally to string an entertaining album together that's more than enough to make the music of Dope Smugglaz worthy of closer inspection.