FUZZBOX: Big Bang (Orgasmatron Edition): CD

After a wait of three years since their first album, the girls released their sophomore album and gone was the sloppy playing, replaced with slick dance beats and glossy production. I remember hearing their single “Self” on the radio and seeing the video and was surprised at the new sound and sexier look that the band was now sporting. The album was one of those get it if I see it, but I didn’t pick it up until it was released on CD later on. With the re-release of the album as a double CD with bonus tracks, it deserves a fresh listen.

The album does have a huge ’80s shine to the production, and the overt pop sound does start to get a bit much in places, but the exuberance of the band really stands out. The songs are concise and full of hooks that should have made this a bigger hit for them, but sadly, it didn’t turn out that way and other than one more single after this album, they were gone far too soon. After the one-two punch of “Pink Sunshine” and “Fast Forward Futurama”, the band kind of falters with a few indulgent, boring songs, “Jamaican Sunrise”, “Walking On Thin Ice” and “Versatile For Discos And Parties”, thankfully the band gets things going again on “International Rescue”. “Self” is next and is still one of the best pop songs with a nice hard edge to it that I’ve heard in a long time. The fantastic thing about this song, other than just how brilliant it is, is the inclusion of Brian May from QUEEN adding guitar to the song. One more mediocre song rounds off the album, “Irish Bride”, but it still holds up pretty damn well.

The first CD has the original ten track album, digitally remastered, whilst the second CD offers up a fifteen track bonus journey into the latter-day Fuzzbox archives, featuring: twelve-inch mixes, B-sides, rarities, CD exclusives, recordings from the Out of This World sessions and the 2004 Syndrum Mix of Fast Forward Futurama featuring Manda Rin (Bis).

Go out and grab a copy and hear a band that had the chops to be a big deal playing some incredible songs mixed with a few mediocre ones that don’t take away from the fun that you will have listening to it. I’m glad that I had a chance to re-evaluate the album after all these years, it’s better than I remembered and with the clear sounding remaster, it sounds better than ever.

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WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GONNA USE IT!!: Bostin Steve Austin (Splendiferous Edition): CD

After twenty-seven years, the debut album by FUZZBOX finally is released on not one, but two CDs, in its expanded Splendiferous Edition. The first CD is the original complete twelve track album remastered and the second CD is filled with bonus material like  the band’s debut EP XX Sex/Rules and Regulations, their collaboration single with Vindaloo label mates, THE NIGHTINGALES and Ted Chippington,”Rockin’ With Rita (Head To Toe)”,  B-sides from their UK Top 40 single “Love Is The Slug”, single “What’s The Point”, their version of QUEEN’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the fan club rarity “Radio Fuzzbox”, together with single exclusive B-sides, 12-inch versions and the previously unreleased “XX Sex (Gully Mix)” and “Light Of The Silvery Moon”. Holy hell,what a release!

This four piece hit the dour mid-80s indie scene and infused it with bright colors, enthusiasm over skill, and fun. I remember flipping through the NME, Sounds and Melody Maker and being intrigued by this group, what did they sound like, would they be any good and how can I get a hold of their music all ran through my head. Luckily, I lived in a large city that was close to an even larger city with a great radio station and they played the song “What’s The Point” and I knew that I must own the album by any means possible, so off on the bus to the big city of Toronto to pick up the twelve-inch single and the debut album, much happiness was felt that day. I played the hell out of the album and single, and I was lucky to see the video of “What’s The Point” on the twenty-four hour video channel Much Music. This re-release brings back all of those memories and for that I thank Cherry Red for putting this out finally.

The album has been beautifully remastered, everything sounds crisp and clear, the CD booklet features lyrics to the original album, personal pictures of the band and sleeve notes from the band’s drummer Tina who gives a very frank and honest opinion about the album and the bonus tracks, “€˜Some of the €˜bonus€™ tracks on this are diabolical and really should have been destroyed at birth!! Sorry a€˜bout that!”. I can see what she means with “Fuzzy Ramblings” being a track of the band just talking and it’s interesting to hear once, but not something that I would play again, but you do get fun songs like their cover of “Fever”, the a capella version “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and covering a bunch of 50s songs on “Fuzzy Faves”.

This is a great re-release and I am so glad to hear it again, I’m going to have this stuck in my CD player for a long time. It’s sad that In 2012 guitarist Jo Dunne passed away of cancer after the band had reformed and didn’t get to see this release and enjoy life longer…damn you cancer!

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