We have a lot to fit in, so without any further ado, let’s all give a big hand to The Shapes, a zippy-zappy, post-punk, power-pop quintet who brightened the British landscape with such roll-off-your-tongue classics as “Wots For Lunch, Mum (Not Beans Again),” “Airline Disaster” and “(I Saw) Batman (In The Launderette).”
Despite a career that barely stretched beyond a couple of 7-inchers, a full album, Songs For Sensible People, of this legendary combo has been compiled from assorted radio sessions, demos and outtakes, and is now available (Overground, U.K. — www.overground.co.uk).
The same label has also packaged up the more-or-less complete works of The Mob, an early ’80s anarcho-punk band whose May Inspire Revolutionary Acts album boasts a very misleading title. There’s no “may” about it; this is a record to set your blood boiling with joyous intent.
There’s more manic power-pop in the shape of a bonus-stacked remaster of The Dickies’ Dawn of The Dickies, home to their breakneck revision of “Nights In White Satin,” plus such self-penned classics as “(I’m Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota,” “Fan Mail” and, among the bonus tracks, “Bowling With Bedrock Barney.”
Captain Oi (www.captainoi.com) has also taken two later Dickies discs, Idjit Savant and Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us, and plastered them onto a generous 26-track twofer. It does all sound ever so slightly dated these days, but if you’ve never watched kids’ TV with your finger on the fast forward button, this is what you’ve been missing.
Fans of the Welsh prog behemoth Man have been very poorly served by CDs so far, but help is at hand as Esoteric (www.cherryred.co.uk) delve deep inside the band’s catalog and commence a disc-by-disc exhumation of their very finest work.
The first discs in the series, picking up with Man’s third album, Man, and traveling on through Do You Like It Here, Be Good To Yourself, Live at the Padgett Rooms and Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics, set the scene for what should be a magnificent program, adding bonus tracks to the original albums (and a bonus disc to Rhinos), plus characteristically self-effacing liners from frontman Deke Leonard.
Also included in the series is an album that is missing from many Man collections, the limited-edition Christmas At The Patti. Of course, its CD counterpart looks nowhere near as endearing as the old double 10-inch vinyl, but the music is just as spellbinding.
The third and final album by Egg, too, will delight anybody who likes noodles with their guitar solos. The Civil Service (Esoteric) was cut following the band’s 1974 reunion and attracted a lot of attention from the presence of Steve Hillage (who played with the band in its earlier incarnation as Uriel), not to mention the original band members’ own recent dabblings in Hatfield and the North.
The album echoes a lot of its heritage, both Egg-shaped and otherwise, its seven tracks meandering in so many directions that other bands might have wrung a full career out of all the ideas at play. And maybe Egg did. A mere seven years after The Civil Service followed its predecessors into obscurity, keyboard player Dave Stewart and guest vocalist Barbara Gaskin were topping the U.K. singles chart.