23 Skidoo

The Gospel Comes to New Guinea

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Fortunately, 23 Skidoo was part of the great post-punk revival of the early 2000s, thanks in no small part to the group's reissues through their own Ronin label. Remastered editions of Seven Songs and Urban Gamelan came in 2001, and another pair arrived near the end of 2002. Just Like Everybody, Part 2 opens up the vaults for unreleased material, and the more valuable of the later pair, The Gospel Comes to New Guinea -- not to be mistaken with a 1981 single of the same name -- compiles singles and EPs that had long since vanished from circulation. The tracks span 1980-1987, so the distance between the surprisingly tame, guitar-led "Ethics" (it's hardly jerky or structurally odd by post-punk standards) and the ethnic fusion/sound collage of 1987's promo-only "Magrehbi" can be charted with some attentive programming (the majority of the disc disregards chronology). Despite some warts, there are some crucial links in the band's discography scattered throughout. There's the ten-minute title track, a brutally entrancing opener produced with Cabaret Voltaire that rolls along on a boulder-heavy rumbling bassline, several percussive elements, and distant chattering. "Just Like Everybody"'s tape manipulations are either spooked or comical, depending on which part is being listened to; minus the remark about basketball, it would've been at home on the terrifying Seven Songs. Both sides of the "Last Words" 7" are prime avant-funk/punk. But the most significant inclusion of all has to be "Coup," one of the key tracks that brought post-punk into alternative dance -- you've probably read at one point another about the Chemical Brothers' sampling of it for "Block Rockin' Beats," but it's much more than mere sampling material, crossing James Brown with reggae and yet sounding like nothing you ever heard prior to 1997.

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