The Artful Splodger

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While the uninitiated might view The Artful Splodger as some kind of greatest-hits collection -- the presence of the age-old "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please" can have that effect -- it is, in fact, the latest phase in the comeback that commenced with I Don't Know and further evidence that the band remains the funniest thing on an awful lot of legs. Indeed, The Artful Splodger is archetypal Splodgenessabounds, ranging through both pop and juvenile-scatological heritage in search of fresh targets to tease. "A Fist Full of Shitters" and "Parallel Lines" will need no introduction to culture vultures, while a remake of Charles Penrose's "The Laughing Policeman" harks back to the heyday of English music hall with riotously contagious hilarity. The remake of "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please" neither adds nor detracts from the glorious original, with all the baggage that entails, while guest appearances from Wurzel of Motörhead, Cock Sparrer's Garrie Lammin, and the Business' Micky Fitz, duetting on "Tinny or Two," restate Splodgenessabounds' ineffably pioneering role in the rise of Oi! in the early '80s. The highlight, however, has to be the band's contribution to the annals of gut-busting, open-sore-scraping heavy metal. "667, the Neighbour of the Beast" might, as with all their best gags, be an old joke. But Iron Maiden fans, of whom there are doubtless one or two, still won't find it funny.

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