The Wildhearts

P.H.U.Q.

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Though it had featured a stunning collection of would-be hits and almost-classic hard rock anthems, the Wildhearts' first full-length album Earth vs. the Wildhearts had suffered from a terribly lifeless production job which somehow managed to douse most of the band's volatile spark. So it was with great relief that listeners finally got to enjoy all the creative, daring, explosive power and barely reigned-in lunacy of the band's incredible live performances with the release of their excellent 1995 sophomore effort P.H.U.Q. Strangely, however, the Wildhearts employed no less than two competent producers in the making of the album. With Mark Dodson (Anthrax, Ugly Kid Joe) overseeing seven tracks and Simon Efemey (Paradise Lost) working on the remaining five, the fact that the band somehow managed to construct such a seamless and satisfying whole from such a disjointed process is nothing short of a miracle. Even by main man Ginger's production line standards, tracks like "Just in Lust," "Nita Nitro," and "Jonesing for Jones" rank among the Wildhearts' best material, and opener "I Wanna Go Where the People Go" is quite possibly their best single ever -- no mean feat. By contrast, the album's climax arrives with an extended suite which begins with the cleverly titled instrumental "Cold Patootie Tango" careens through the stop-start dynamics of "Caprice" and concludes with the cathartic anthem of disenfranchisement which is "Be My Drug." With so much inspiration flying around, Ginger's sardonic, profanity-laced lyrics are often the only thing limiting the hit potential. P.H.U.Q. officially concludes with the frenetically repetitive "Getting It," but some CD versions also feature two bonus tracks ("Inglorious" and "Schizophonic") culled from the previously fan club-only release Fishing for Luckies. Despite being embraced by critics and fans in Britain and across Europe, P.H.U.Q. was to be the Wildhearts' most overlooked masterpiece in America, and it is little wonder that the band never fully recovered from their disappointment.

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