Oil and Gold is surprising for several reasons. For one, the departure of singer/guitarist Carl Marsh midway through produced no noticeable dip in the record's quality. For another, live drums appear for the first time on a Shriekback album, thanks to Martyn Barker, a longtime associate who was added to the band at the tail end of the Jam Science sessions. Most surprising, though, is how much this album rocks out, particularly on the songs featuring ex-Damned guitarist Lu Edmonds. It even yielded an out of left field hit single in "Nemesis," which not only uses the word "parthenogenesis," but rhymes it successfully, and does so in the chorus. In truth, Oil and Gold is six-tenths of a great album. It leads off with the rip-roaring one-two-three punch of "Malaria," "Everything That Rises Must Converge," and "Fish Below the Ice," all featuring Marsh on vocals. These are followed by "This Big Hush" and "Faded Flowers," two tremendously beautiful slow numbers sung by Barry Andrews, who took over for Marsh as lead vocalist. The B side (vinylly speaking) begins nicely with "Nemesis" and quickly falls apart, with the nadir being the clunkers "Health and Knowledge and Wealth and Power" (sung by Marsh) and "Hammerheads" (sung by Andrews). Still, Oil and Gold's highlights make it a rewarding listen.
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AllMusic Review by Bill Cassel