The Blue Aeroplanes

Weird Shit

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Various compilations of the Blue Aeroplanes' work have surfaced over the years, but perhaps none is quite as delightful -- and as well-titled -- as Weird Shit. Apparently surfacing first as a limited-edition tape release, then as a full CD issue, the disc covers 20 years of activity in the camp of Gerard Langley and his rotating crew of associates, though the liner notes come from sometime-guitarist Nick Jacobs. It's actually an appropriate choice, seeing as Jacobs himself has a song all his own (the guitar/vocal "Pre-Fab Buildings" from 1988), while other tracks lack Langley et al. "Popsicle Pete" features only guitarist Richard Bell and sample-provider John Stapleton in a quirky little mood, while "On the Trail of Persephone's Shoes" is an instrumental through and through. Jacobs himself notes that "recordings happened without all the members even being aware of them," a situation which readily describes the haphazard but enjoyable nature of the compilation. The earliest song, 1979's "Showing off to Impress the Girls," shows that Langley's particular humor was already in place, while "Mau-Mau" is a bemusing turn into reggae not all that far removed from similar reinterpretations by the Police. Once or twice some live numbers crop up, including the enjoyable "Through the Smoke Hole," which finds a 1984 lineup (including redoubtable dancer Wojtek Dmochowski) in a bit of an African highlife mood. "Love Come Round" -- an all-acoustic number with Langley backed by Angelo Bruschini, Alex Lee, and Rodney Allen -- is the definite lost classic of the bunch, with a lovely performance backing one of Langley's best, most intense vocals. Some of the best numbers, like "Popsicle Pete," feature only one or two people. Langley and his drumming brother, John, make "Vade Mecum Gunslinger No. One" a weird cousin to Adam Ant's "Ant Rap," while Langley himself literally gets the last word with "Camus in the Pocket," an brief semi-rap from 1981.

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