Crispy Ambulance


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Drawing in large part from the Open Gates of Fire release, Fin, so named since the band had already called it a day, makes for an excellent adjunct to the band's studio work, showing that the quartet didn't merely enjoy live performances, they thrived on them. Those not convinced by the attractive dark glow of Crispy Ambulance's studio work might well be surprised at how powerful and yet still mysterious the four members sounded in concert. Hempsall throws out some humorous between-song comments here and there -- "Here's a song you might just know...It's Howdy Doody time!" -- but his performances are no joke, the rough-voiced charisma of the studio work carrying over well. If anything, his singing is the most prominent part of the performance in the mix, seconded by Darbyshire's bass and, when soloing, Davenport. It's a slightly odd combination but still works well, though it sometimes leaves Madeley out in the cold. The song selection, in keeping with the group's creative bent, for the most part consists of songs that were then unreleased or not formally recorded. Of these, the engrossing "The Plateau Phase" (not found on the album of the same name) is arguably the standout number, its driving, rampaging post-punk power simply stunning. The immediately following "Nightfall Ends the Ceasefire" is also quite worthy, a lovely Davenport intro turning into a queasy rumble of sound that Madeley's drumming transforms into a majestic psych trip. Evidence of the band's own way of doing things comes in the form of a favorite live cover version -- Throbbing Gristle's wonderful "United," introduced amusingly by Hempsall (with heavy echo) as "a classic from the new wave era!" and given a great, obsessive, and nervous arrangement. Later versions of Fin contained the B-side of the Sexus single, "Black Death (Life Is Knife)," and, in a slightly unusual touch, the group's derivative debut single, From the Cradle to the Grave.

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