Nurse with Wound

Rock 'n' Roll Station

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Rock 'n' Roll Station is not your typical Nurse with Wound record, either nowadays or back in 1994; the only other album getting close to it is Who Can I Turn to Stereo, which came out right after this one. Here, Steve Stapleton obviously went for something more palatable, even dancefloor friendly. The result remains controversial to this day. Sure, with its shorter pieces and insistent beats, Rock 'n' Roll Station is more accessible or listener friendly, but is it a good Nurse with Wound album? Or a good album, period? The answer is a reluctant "no," for two main reasons. First of all, Stapleton does not tackle the song format very well. The two most serious contenders for the title of "song" on the album, the title track and "A Silhouette and a Thumbtack (Dance in Hyperspace)" are surprisingly light on ideas -- these from a man known for stuffing countless interesting elements in his sound collages. They quickly get repetitive or even annoying, paradoxically overstaying their welcome, despite the strange recitation in "Rock 'n' Roll Station" ("R+B Through Collis Browne," a beat-heavy dance tune with ethereal female vocals and noise guitar, fares much better in that vein). The second reason is even less debatable: with its handful of single-length tracks and two quarter-hour collages ("Two Golden Microphones" and "Finsbury Park, May 8th, 1.35pm"), the album fails to cohere into a new proposition, leaving the listener sitting on the fence between the NwW that was (and would largely remain to be) and a new direction that does not quite materialize. The two collages are prime examples of creative, top quality NwW. They are filled with uncanny sonic juxtapositions, disquieting twists and immersive drones. "Two Golden Microphones," with Peat Bog's spellbinding didgeridoo performance, is worthy of inclusion on a NwW anthology. Yet these two tracks lack some relation to the shorter material on the album, which led to fans' focusing only on the former, while newcomers lured to Rock 'n' Roll Station because of its so-called accessibility tended to skip over the latter. First issued on United Dairies in 1994, the album was reissued in 2006 by Beta-lactam Ring with a bonus track, the 13-minute "1.35pm Remix," which is a lot noisier than the original material.

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