Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Cranberries • No Need to Argue [CD]

Review originally published in The Rocket, Seattle, December 1994 and posted on my old blog, Skratchdisc, on 3/31//2010 – now posted here for your edification, entertainment and/or annoyance.

Yes, that’s right. There’s no need to argue: THE CRANBERRIES are as bad as their name. For one thing, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan goes out of her way to sing every song as if she’s yearning for something. Can someone yearn that much? And for what? Her caterwauling envelops the entire album, making the whole thing rather difficult to hear. It makes me want to pee. I mean, she spends so much time trying to uniquely sing every syllable, she’s barely singing anything understandable at all. If you want to hear lyrics rendered as gibberish, you might as well go put on Cocteau Twins! At least they’re good, and their lyrics aren’t supposed to mean anything!

But, let’s assume you can get past her voice (i.e., you like it). Musically, No Need to Argue is an amalgam of alternative rock styles (including nifty grunge-style guitar on “Zombie”) that we’ve all heard at least one too many times. Now, I know that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad album (hell, I liked Urge Overkill’s Saturation). But it’s basically the same album as their debut from last year, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Maybe they’re answering the question of their first album’s title with No Need to Argue. But, as your mother probably told you any number of times, just because everybody’s jumping off a cliff doesn’t mean you have to, too. – Marsh Gooch

[no stars given in original review] (Island 314-524 050-2, 1994)

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions • Armed Forces [Super Deluxe Edition]

Here’s the ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS’ big box set I’d been waiting for. From the guy who I originally panned when reviewing his first two albums for my junior high school “newspaper,” Armed Forces – the 1979 album has passed its 40th birthday – still stands as a monumental new wave LP. In fact, calling it new wave almost denigrates it. The fact of the matter is, many record labels were looking for acts with that “edgy,” “sharp,” “barbed” sound after EC and his Attractions dropped this bombshell on the ears of those who were searching for something beyond the usual rock.

Dubbed “The Complete Armed Forces,” this behemoth includes LPs, EPs, 7″ singles and booklets galore in a large clamshell box adorned with the original US album cover on the outside (which was actually on the inside of the UK/European versions) and the UK/European front cover on the inside (which was on the back of the US version), all of which was designed by the magnificent Barney Bubbles. The 12″ assortment includes the original Armed Forces in a 13-track version that incorporates both the US and UK track listings (in the very cool origami-like unfolding cover of the foreign versions), a Live at Hollywood High and Beyond album (half of the tracks that appeared on a 2010 CD of the entire concert but considerably more than the three that appeared on the 7″ EP included with the original album), and a blistering ’79 concert recorded at the Pink Pop Festival in the Netherlands. EP-wise – all 10″ vinyl – you get an 8-song volume called Sketches for Emotional Fascism (most of which have appeared on previous Costello releases), a 6-song concert recorded in Australia (Riot at the Regent, quite good but too short!), and a 4-songer called Christmas in the Dominion which is also way too short. The singles feature original artwork for three 7″ releases, but the B-sides aren’t always the same as on the originals (except on one where it is!). Maddening! And the sleeve for “Accidents Will Happen,” which was originally cleverly printed inside-out (as in, “accidents will happen!”), is printed right-side-out, which at least gives you the chance to see what the whole thing looked like without having to take the sleeve apart. As for the “booklets galore,” these are all designed to look like old comic books, pulp fiction novels and other pre-1979 printed materials, with insides that include Elvis’s notes on the songs and their geneses, his handwritten lyrics as they appeared in his notebooks, etc., and all the credits for this humongous undertaking. In all, it’s a shitload of Costello music and ephemera that is going to be way too much for most people but not enough for many of the rest of us.

I think, in all, this “complete” Armed Forces is pretty fabulous. The sound quality is the best yet for the core album (my opinion, even better than the MoFi pressing) and the live concerts sound brilliant. I do wish the Riot at the Regent and Christmas in the Dominion records contained the complete concerts (future marketing opportunities!), but I can handle those coming out separately later on. This box itself is awfully expensive ($200 for the black vinyl version, $260 for the color vinyl) but is likely to come down in price. And if it’s just the music you want, you can find that available as high resolution downloads online. But if you like your box sets in the extravagant variety (not exactly punk rock, but, hey, whatever) then this is one you should have in your armory. – Marsh Gooch

4.5/5 (UMe B0031761-01, 2020)

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