The Royal Family & the Poor

The Temple of the 13th Tribe

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Mike Keane's first album in the Royal Family & the Poor guise was done only after plenty of ups and downs in Keane's own life as well as numerous personnel shifts and incarnations, but the end results were a sometimes delicate and often enthralling combination. It's actually a combination of several different sessions, though most were overseen by Peter Hook of New Order as producer, while the backing lineup of violinist John Neesham and synth player Lita Hira resulted in a distinct, not-rock-as-such sound. The album does very much reflect its time and place throughout. While it would be pushing it a touch to say it sounds exactly like a Factory record of the time "should," the combination of electronic drums, reverbed vocals, and aural mystery on songs like "Radio Egypt" and the particularly fine "The Dawn Song" is both familiar and slightly tweaked. The wild card is often Keane's burgeoning interest in the occult (Alastair Crowley is prominently sampled on "Voices," song titles include "Dark and Light" and "Power of Will"), while sonically compositions like "Moonfish Is Here" and "Ritual 1" suggest the World Serpent circle of groups such as Current 93 and Coil rather than, say, the Durutti Column. Perhaps in interesting contrast, The Temple of the 13th Tribe kicks off with one of post-punk's most gently affecting songs, "I Love You (Restrained in a Moment)," Keane's high voice eerily foreshadowing where fellow Mancunian Tim Booth would end up circa James' Laid album. The reissue on Boutique in 2003 included the tracks done by the band's earliest incarnation in 1980 for the Factory Quartet compilation -- produced by Martin Hannett, they're fairly rough and shapeless noise with rants that are neither here nor there in the end.

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