Billy Childish

Live in the Netherlands

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As indicated by the title, this shows Childish and his Blackhands -- now a completely different backing band, with the exception of trumpeter Dave, still offering up strange and amusing squalls and noises -- at large in said country. Taken from five different dates during a May 1993 tour, the Blackhands offer up another mixed batch of goofy and fun reinterpretations and originals, all delivered in a shambling mix of skeletal rock-folk-tropical giddiness. Beginning with a World War II slice of English patriotism, "Mr. Hitler," starting with an appropriately martial drum roll/brass combination before sliding into the more typical Blackhands music hall-calypso fusion, the Blackhands make their merry way along. Sound quality varies here and there, and Childish always sounds like he's singing from one room over. For all that, there's more honest energy and good times throughout the performances than you'll ever hear on most slick corporate live releases. With an accordionist again accompanying the basic band setup for further color, everything grooves away with abandon. Childish standards given the treatment include "Chatham Jack" and "Louis Riel," his "Louie Louie"-derived piece about the Canadian-Indian resistance fighter. As for the oldies but goodies unearthed, winners include an appropriately mournful take on "Black Girl," (aka "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," some months before Nirvana's famous version) and a concluding combination of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" and "The Lambeth Walk." There aren't many out there who could so effortlessly combine a love of roots music from South London to the Deep South, but Childish always does it in style. Other sharp tracks include a ripping version of "Yellow-Skinned Baby" that creates an instant party mood and an equally fun romp through "John Hardy." The CD issue of this album includes the earlier Play: Capt'n Calypso's Hoodoo Party as well, making for a great combination.

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