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The James Bailey Experience by Commercial Dual Purpose

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Reviewed on 1st July 2003.


The James Bailey Experience

By Commercial Dual Purpose

I got such a charming email. And the two-part album on lovingly made CD-Rs (2 each, 3 the pair) looked so good that I really wanted to review and like this album.

Part 1 is subtitled "Dad, have we been to the moon?" and Part 2 is "Nay 'ow son don't be daft". Illustrations are cute composites that look just right for hyper-indie personal distribution among friends and gig goers. Commercial Dual Purpose are Sheffield based and are starting to look further afield for gigs and recognition.

Track 1 "Thatcher Milk Snatcher" (Chumbawumba time warp, or what?) starts with promising lo-fi guitar chugging and I start to feel happy. This is charming, eccentric, clever music that confirms that there are at least some people in the world who have got some idea of what it's like to have heard pretty well everything there is to hear but who are still holding out the hope of being surprised and delighted by a new sound.

Sadly it doesn't work out for me and Commercial Dual Purpose. Commercial Dual Purpose are interesting people who would create a brilliant fanzine and entertain cheerful friends in a pub. But musicians they are not. The very poor quality of the sound and the painfully off key singing makes it very hard to listen at all. There's a live acoustic track which peps up the levels, with an over-the-peak guitar. But even that guitar is not in tune. Quirky little folk songs break spasmodically into emo screaming or even funk jerking. But there's absolutely no quality control and no single mind directing the plot. Whatever happens seems to get recorded, and while you can find lovely bits of doodle here and there in the margins, the whole work is just a big messy scrawl and they really are going to have to start all over again. But it won't matter, because they have Northern Exposure gigs coming up - and they will be fun and people will like some of it. And they can trim down the great wall-sized canvas they're carrying around into something a bit more delicate and usable.

And maybe they can find a singer, or start writing songs that don't need a singer. That voice is not just off key, it's characterless and thin as well. It sounds just like me on a bad day. And that is bad.

So indie kids, listen and learn. A recorded CD suggests "music" and the promise of "musicians" playing it. That doesn't mean the virtuoso trained penguin kind of musicians, but it does call for people who can hear what they have done and who can make painful judgements about what to keep and what to throw away. And who know when to start again.



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