Chill Faction

Eggman on the Deuce and Other Stories

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Though singer/guitarist Larry Kirwan is most well known musically for his work leading Black 47, in the '80s he had a different role as the singer for the engaging and quite appropriately named post-punk/dance collective Chill Faction. Another member, Mike Fazio, helped coordinate an anthology of the group's work nearly twenty years after the fact on his Faith Strange label and the resultant Eggman on the Deuce and Other Stories in ways couldn't be better timed. With a worldwide fascination with the early '80s still playing out, hearing the best of Chill Faction's work, with often stark, brutal arrangements turning funk's warmth into a colder but equally powerful kick throughout, helps document a sound's evolution further. That said, a number of the tracks are clearly archival rather than top of the line. The extremely murky sounding demos that start the collection have nervous aggro in spades but Kirwan's nervously yelped but mixed down vocals undercut their impact. (At other points his youthful desperation can verge on the unintentionally comical, as on "The Affairs of the Heart.") The later demos are much clearer on that front -- "Christmas in the Whorehouse" is a clear example -- though sometimes the material drags a bit. But the four tracks that made up the group's original Eggman on the Deuce EP, including an enjoyably angular cover of "I Am the Walrus" which partially explains the title, are stronger affairs, especially with the more prominent work of trombonist Fred Parcells. David Conrad's strong bass introduction to "Don't Fall in the Crack, Jack" is instantly memorable, while "Whenever We're Together" is an underrated mini-classic of romance that shows up the likes of the Killers as flailing badly on that front. Best overall songtitle: "(You Send Me Like So Many) Nuclear Missiles," which has a couple of wonderfully cool keyboard/guitar breaks that are pure glide and grind.

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