Swamp Cranks - The Tapes

Friday 1st October 1999
Swamp Cranks - The Tapes
Swamp Cranks - The Tapes

STYLE: Rock
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 1036-
LABEL: Mister MRMCD007
FORMAT: CD Album
ITEMS: 1

Reviewed by James Lewis

The Swamp Cranks are, for the uninitiated, Dan Donovan minus his Tribe plus Canadian singer/songwriter Mr Bennett, who compete for the most gravely voice. To describe the feel of this recording is difficult, but a starting point would be a lo-fi, American gothic (via fens), acoustic, blues and folk. A shorthand way to describe it would be Tom Waits meets Nick Cave (?). Suffice it to say the collection of 25 songs, snippets of prose and bizarre musings has its own eccentric charm. I think most people would want to listen to the songs, which hark back to Woody Guthrie, more often than the spoken word pieces and it could be argued that it would have therefore made more sense to programme the songs and the spoken word pieces in two halves. On the other hand to listen to these mostly eccentric performance pieces back-to-back might be a bit too much. You pays your money and you takes your choice. The sound is rough and one-take - according to the sleevenotes the first tape which makes up this digital was made for 20 and it shows at points. To quibble at this would be to miss the point - simply enjoy "Darkness Is Temporal", "Money", "Life's Great Mystery" in their unpolished and croaky glory. Enjoy the guys forgetting the words on the live "Desperate Mean & Crooked". Bring your sense of humour, but don't bring your best hi-fi.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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