Jet / John's Children / Radio Stars

Music for the Herd of Herring

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Sheer brilliance! Few fans of the guilty partners can fail to be familiar with the long and glorious history that attends Messrs. Andy Ellison, Martin Gordon, Chris Townson, Ian MacLeod, and Trevor Martin, and here it unfolds in the most lucid fashion -- from John's Children to Jook, from Sparks to Jet and on to Radio Stars, 21 songs essentially tell the story of ten years of unabashed genius. Each of the three bands gets its kicks in early -- John's Children, with Morrissey mainstay Boz Boorer filling in for the absent Geoff McClelland and Marc Bolan, are represented by four songs midset, plus a dynamite rendering of "Desdemona" at the end; Jet open up with Davy O'List's much underrated "My River" before "Brian Damage," "Nothing to Do with Us," and a marvelous medley wrap up their part of the proceedings; Jook are showcased by Trevor White's "Crazy Kids," enacted here with all the proto-punk savagery that history tends to overlook; and Martin Gordon's brief spell with Sparks is remembered with the B-side "Barbecutie" and "Cover Girl," a Jet mainstay that was originally written with the Mael brothers in mind. And that just leaves listeners with Radio Stars, the only band of them all to enjoy a bona fide hit single. "Nervous Wreck," of course, is here, together with a smart sampling of both original Radio Stars albums and a manic closing salvo that slams "Johnny Mekon," "Dirty Pictures," and "No Russians in Russia" into brain-charring focus. But to isolate any song, or band, as a highlight here is to do wicked disservice to the rest of the set -- from start to finish, Music for the Herd of Herring ranks among the most enjoyable live albums of the century so far, and its perpetrators are revealed as the best time one can have with someone else's clothes on.

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