Getting Jean Smith, Michael Morley, and Peter Jefferies together in a room is a good idea in and of itself, but is the music any good? In sum, yes, though arguably it's little more than the fusion of Smith's sharp, fiery lyrical vision with rumbling, murky underground New Zealand rock -- but really, not much more is needed. Recorded down under on a favored Morley/Jefferies medium of choice -- four track reel to reel -- 2 Foot Flame finds the three creating some great, rough, and ready efforts. Smith contributes guitar to the proceedings as well, and while it's always initially surprising to hear more than a solo electric back her up given all her work with Mecca Normal, she works the full arrangements here with gusto. Her singing cuts clearly across the thick blast of sound when it's there and works the quieter moments with entrancing effectiveness, as on the rolling feedback wave of "To the Sea" and the alternating hum and roar of "Mr. H." The latter has some of her best work on the album, menacing and challenging all at once. Jefferies, as is his wont, concentrates on heavy-duty drumming and a variety of piano styles, while Morley plays guitar (notably going nuts on "The Arbitrator") and adds scraping, edgy synth yowls and cries. One of Jefferies' more intriguing (and amusing) moments is the utterly stentorian, halfway to Volga Boatman melody he creates for "Already Waiting," while his backing for Smith on "Reinvention" is more conventionally lovely, quietly straightforward, and a good contrast for her stretched-out syllables. The threesome gets a chance to stretch out some with "Cordoned Off," an almost ten-minute long song with Smith combining spoken word delivery and singing over a massive drone explosion from everyone.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett