If ever there was an album that epitomised the term ‘grower,’ then this is it!
This is actually the sixth album from THE SCARAMANGA SIX, although it was originally penned and planned as their fifth! However, just as they had completed the initial recording of the album, producer Tim Smith fell seriously ill and the entire production was halted.
The material for that album was held in abeyance as they immediately decided to write and record a new set of songs, which later would be released as their fifth album – ‘Songs Of Prey.’
As they began working on the next again project, the question suddenly hit them – could they simply ignore the ‘lost’ album they had created with their friend Tim a few years earlier? The answer was an unequivocal ‘No,’ and so the decision was taken to re-record the whole album again from scratch.
‘Cursed,’ is the result.
So – tell me, where do you think the line is drawn between a ‘Rock Opera’ and a ‘Rock Musical?’ Somewhere within the fifty minutes of this album, I’d venture!
There’s such an eclectic mix of influences and styles on ‘Cursed.’ In general, it’s all very dramatic and the delivery sounds almost as if it were written with a theatre-styled presentation in mind rather than a mere ‘gig.’ In fact, instead of the conventional ‘side one’ and ‘side two’ the album is divided into ‘Parts one and two.’
Opener, ‘Last Roll Of The Dice’ is big and bold, powered by pummelling drums and a brass section mixed with huge hook-laden guitar riffs. The vocals are loud and proud, with a distinct Seventies Rock sound to them. At times a little like (I’m guessing here, The Boo Radleys or some of that ilk) at others like some original wave Prog Rock band, this is an intriguing introduction to the album.
‘Damned If You Don’t, Damned If You Do’ has a rougher edge…and a more melodic punk styled delivery. There are little passages of spoken word, and some discordant guitar. ‘Rest In Peace,’ is slower and much more moody. Again, there are echoes of Seventies Prog Rock here, with a cello accentuating the darker mood. It builds into a booming type anthem, and again creates the image of a West End production, with the singer out front, spotlight on full beam as he goes through the theatrics of wringing his hands and pointing to the heavens. (All right, maybe I’m getting a touch carried away with it all here – but you get the picture?)
‘Walking Through Houses’ I hate to say, reminds me a bit of Radiohead – but there is a lovely chorus that sticks in my head, so they are forgiven. ‘Trouble’ is a bit of a rocker in the old fashioned sense, and if I were to draw any comparison here, it has that dramatic, if slightly camp feel to it of the marvellous Foxy Shazam. Brilliant!
Part One closes with ‘Autopsy Of The Mind,’ the longest of the twelve tracks, featuring some nice guitar solos, but overall reminding me a little of the kind of story-telling song you’d likely hear sung by some Baltic state’s representatives at the Eurovision Song Contest! (It’s pretty entertaining though, for all that!)
‘Dark Matter’ starts out with some chilling piano and theremin mixed with rushes of cymbals but soon develops into a bit of a jazz freak-out with sax and trumpets blaring over heavy bass lines. The call of crows heralds the opening of ‘I Can See A Murder’, which to me seems to mix a Country & Western feel with the kind of Zappa-esque spazz rock type of sound with vocals in the mould of Jello Biafra!
‘The Repo Man’ is fast, furious and angry sounding. Quite obviously, the ‘bad guy’ who will get booed at every opportunity on stage sings it! ‘Quite The Man About Town’ didn’t leave any great lasting impression, but it’s a good, bouncy little rock song. ‘Like An Insect,’ and the closer, ‘Spent Force,’ both indicate the ‘show’ is coming to an end – nothing spectacular about them, but big, resounding dramatic vocals hint at the curtain call.
You know – I don’t think any other band could pull this off! It really is quite unique in its sound. Actually …. I think I like it! A lot!!
(Released through Wrath Records on 26th April 2011)