By The Scaramanga Six
Well named is the LP, given the history that lies behind it. Working with Tim Smith from the Cardiacs on an LP provisionally entitled "A Pound of Flesh" a few years back, Tim was taken seriously ill and the sessions appeared to have created a lost mythical work. Fret not Scara fans, for it was re-recorded and now reappears under the moniker "Cursed".
So what do we get on this disc? As you'd expect with this band, a large dose of grandeur, drama, humour and most of all really well written songs that sooth and punish in equal amounts. Side 1 kicks off with live favourite "Last Roll of the Dice", which sets the agenda for the chaffless and high wheat content of the first 6 songs, the best of which in my eyes "Trouble", with its ace promise/threat "Do you want trouble? Then you're going to get trouble" delivered by the menace that is Steve Morricone. The first half is drawn to a close with "Autopsy of the Mind" and it's time for a rest as no filler resides on this platter. No time to breathe has been allowed.
The break comes with side 2 opener "Dark Matter", which while a nice distraction from what's happened already and a very un-obvious Six track, doesn't really register with me and doesn't fit in with the feel of the LP. Never mind, as "Dark Matter" ends, "I Can See a Murder" kicks in with its Stranglers punching Cardiacs riffing and the beauty of the line "why oh why why oh why why oh why why oh why won't you die?" "The Repo Man" doesn't exactly let the ears of the hook either - brutal riffs, feedback and pummelling drumming throughout, and 88 seconds later it's over. Breath taking stuff.
Things cool down a little towards the end of side 2, as "Like an Insect" pumps up the drama as the pace slows down, with some welcome Pixies-esque string bending axe action, and lots of sax and gentle glock work. Pleasant. Closer "A Spent Force" has a nagging feel of Northern Soul at times, but also mid 80s Bowie and mid 70s glam either lurking under the surface, or sneaking up on you via some well recorded strings.
Summing up then, this LP sees the Six continue along the path that they've always been on by continually upping the ante in terms of ideas, production and songs about betrayal, regret, loss, love, revenge and murder. What else do you need on an LP? That the wider music industry still can't get its head round the excellence of this band is a constant frustration, but allows the score Wrath Records 1 Music Industry 0, again.