Swamp Children

So Hot

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Given the not entirely surprising but still unjustified stereotype of Factory Records as the home for grim Joy Division copyists in the early '80s, the very existence of the Swamp Children's first and only album under that name should have been enough to surprise many people. The sextet's effort certainly had a way with darker bass tones on a number of songs -- check out the slippery work on "El Figaro" for an example -- but much like drummer Martin Moscrop's other band, A Certain Ratio, Swamp Children overtly pursued often sprightly funk/pop efforts as a raison d'ĂȘtre. The resulting balance wasn't a sheer explosion of exuberance, much as the influences were audible; So Hot is more polite fun in a low-key sense, tapping into the same bossa nova/nightclub vein that would inspire more well-known contemporaries like Sade. Hints of Martin Denny's exotica ("Magic") and Sergio Mendes' slick Latin pop ("Sunny Weather") also crop up, and the result actually feels much more successful -- and definitely less smarmy -- than so many neo-lounge efforts of a decade later. Ann Quigley's voice takes a distanced role when it does, making it a bit of a weak spot; she sounds quite all right throughout, more so on songs like "Tender Game" and "Spark the Flame," but she is often buried in the mix, an extra element rather than a central one. The easygoing grace and bubbling energy of the band as a whole, however -- as one listen to the great "Samba Zippy, Pt. 2" shows -- indicate the members' true strength was as an ensemble. LTM's 2004 reissue, as always seeking to provide as much value as possible, collects both the album and the contents of the band's first singles, "Little Voices" and "Taste What's Rhythm," to provide a nearly complete overview of the group before its name change and subsequent career on Factory as Kalima.

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