Fuzzbox

Rules and Regulations to Pink Sunshine: The Fuzzbox Story

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Although part of the title implies that this might be a career retrospective, in fact this is a double CD of odds and ends. They do span much of Fuzzbox's career (the bulk of it dating from the second half of the 1980s), but it shouldn't be mistaken for a best-of. Indeed, it's one of those releases whose detailed liner notes and gaudy colored insert you can pore over for quite some time without ever ascertaining whether any of the songs have been previously released. The identification of most, though not all, of the tracks as demos, live, "sketch," "alternative version," "Perl & Dean Mix," and so forth is pretty strong evidence that most of it's rare and/or previously unreleased. Fuzzbox were kind of a U.K. counterpart to good-time American new wave bands like the Go-Go's and the Bangles, though without the same level of material, or as strong an identity. The items on tap here are rather all over the place, from quite raw mid-'80s pop-punk live cuts and an acoustic demo of "Pink Sunshine" (a highlight) to rather slick dance-pop and the odd arty or dub tinge, particularly on some instrumental passages. It's moderately catchy new wave (or at least new wave-influenced) pop with harmonies, sometimes though not always utilizing actual guitar fuzz. The four 1998 Perl & Dean mixes pointlessly herd Fuzzbox into the kind of turn of the century thump-a-thump dance rhythms you could hear any day of the week wafting out of storefronts in Central London during that era; the insult is compounded by placing these at the very beginning of disc one. The liner notes, by Maggie Off of Fuzzbox, do their very best to dampen interest among the punters by declaring that "this retrospective contains material that many, including myself, believe should never have been released to an unsuspected public," adding for good measure that "'Enigma' is surely the worst song ever, ever, ever." This release isn't as bad as that warning might portend, but its audience should be limited to serious fans.

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