|The Urban Voodoo Machine - 'Rare Gumbo' (Gypsy Hotel Records)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Tuesday, 30 April 2013 03:00|
The Urban Voodoo Machine have been playing, drinking and falling off stages for 10 years now, and they celebrate this milestone with the release of 'Rare Gumbo', a compilation album consisting of tracks from their hard to find first 3 EPs, single b-sides and other odds and sods. It serves as an appetiser for their highly anticipated third album 'Love, Drink & Death' due to hit a musical emporium near you in September. Led by ringmaster, vocalist and songwriter Paul-Ronney Angel, this red 'n' black wearing troupe of anywhere between 7-12 musicians have played all the major UK festivals and supported the likes of the New York Dolls and The Pogues. Live they are pure entertainment, a living and breathing musical carnival, a vibrant and colourful overload for the senses and a band to watch with a drink in your hand and a smile on your face.
'Rare Gumbo' is more than just a rarities collection though, it is also a great introduction for the uninitiated as any one of these tracks would slot in nicely on either of their previous albums (and some do albeit in a different form). The ultra cool b-side 'The Death Of Celestina Rose' for example flows within the same vein as 'Rather You Shot Me Down' or 'Alone In The City', a lazy hungover feel, the comedown from the night before.
The wide range of instruments used throughout gives a worldly, gypsy sound to the punk, the folk, and the blues on offer here. Brass and string instruments, accordian and harmonica join forces with tribal beats, percussion and Nick Marsh's inspired guitar playing and add extra bite to influences that range from The Pogues and The Levellers to the New York Dolls and Hanoi Rocks that can be heard over the course of these 22 tracks on offer.
Paul-Ronney Angel's tongue-in-cheek lyrics are always a joy whether reciting tales of loving, drinking, gambling or fucking, all four together probably if he can get away with it. Take the upbeat blues workout 'Six Weeks On The Road' with piano and harmonica accompaniment and the "Six weeks on the road, I hope you kept your pussy clean?" refrain, how utterly delightful it is.
The full on brass attack on 'Recipe For Disaster', coming on like something off an Ennio Morriconi soundtrack is smart. In fact thinking about it, it's a crime nothing here featured on the recent 'Django Unchained' soundtrack, I've said it before, their music would be the perfect soundtrack for a modern spaghetti western.
Instrumentals such as opener 'Last Dance Of The Silver Wolf' or 'Police Paranoia' are never dull thanks to the range of instrumentation and 'Gawkagogo' with its circus ringmaster intro comes on like Dick Dale on crack, some tripped out '60s surf instrumental gone mad.
The Norwegian born frontman shows he's partial to a bit of AC/DC with this album's only cover, a great take on 'Hells Bells' done like only UVM could, the riff played acoustic, with some added brass and is that a washboard I hear going on there thrown in for good measure, also featuring a trumpet replacing Angus Young's classic solo, and why not? This is how to do a cover version and make it your own.
Also worth a mention are the two bonus tracks from a BBC live session that has Paul correcting a bemused Clive Anderson I believe more than once, sounding like he's not too sure what he's let himself in for. "High Jeopardy Thing? Jolly good" he retorts, who says that in 2012? Classic radio.
It's all here, upbeat drinking songs, murder ballads or hangover cures, if you want it they got it, so why not join the party and have some of their Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop 'n' Stroll music. 'Rare Gumbo' is indeed a rarity, a compilation album that sounds like a best of album, and that's genius right there, bring on album number 3 I say.