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RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY - See the Fire 3 CD box set (Cherry Red)

A bargain priced compilation bringing together Red Lorry Yellow Lorry's first two albums, singles from 1982-1987, and BBC sessions from 1983-1984, all housed in replica LP sleeves within an outer box. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (aka The Lorries) have been pigeonholed as a goth band by the press and compilers of goth compilation albums, yet the band never considered themselves as such, simply as an "innovative guitar band with good tunes". There's an old cliche in the goth scene that all true goths deny that they are goths, but in the case of the Lorries, the denial is, in the most part, rather more justified than the protestations of some other bands who have been tagged as goth. There are aspects of their sound that share commonalities with goth, such as the deep male vocals and the atmospheric guitar sound, along with the use of jerky, angular rhythms, which were of course also a characteristic of some of the first-wave goth bands from the post-punk era. Yet there is far more going on with the Lorries that makes their music stand out from the goth crowd, becoming something else entirely.

The first CD comprises debut album Talk About the Weather and contemporaneous singles. The general emphasis of the album tracks is on choppy songs with an agitated feeling and a thrilling intensity. Whether it's the chaotic noise aspect of Feel a Piece, the angry snarl of This Today, or the more melodic approach of Hollow Eyes, all make for a thoroughly exciting listen. A reverb-laden, eerie atmosphere is paired with an on-edge excitability in Strange Dream; Beating My Head adds a brass section for an innovative touch; and I'm Still Waiting combines bright jangle, garage rock intensity, and a completely unexpected jazz-funk interlude.

The second CD is the album Paint Your Wagon, plus singles. The title and artwork of this album may suggest a Wild West movie soundtrack influence, though such a sound is not immediately evident here. The music on this album has a darkness and harshness that does in fact have much in common with bands categorised as goth, even though it was never the Lorries' intention to emulate the goth sound. There's still plenty of variety here though, the band's musical approach varying between strongly melodic songs like Walking on Your Hands, tracks like Jipp which swathe harsh punkiness within a dark atmosphere, and Shout at the Sky which sets a menacing snarl of a vocal to a hypnotic, near-psychedelic instrumental backing. The singles add more eclecticism to the mix, with various tracks opting for a swirling, psychedelic wall of sound, and Paint Your Wagon (which does not appear on the album it shares its name with) having a shoegaze-esque atmosphere.

Finally there's the BBC session disc, The Lorries at the BBC, comprising two Peel Sessions and another broadcast on the Janice Long show. There's alternative versions of songs from Talk About the Weather and early singles, as well as the song Conscious Decision, which was only ever recorded for the BBC, and is a great melodic song that comes across like a darker version of powerpop. The versions of previously released tracks are also great, with lots of angular changeability and unexpected touches like the jazzy sax solo in Happy.

Very highly recommended compilation from an inventive, genre-transcending band whose songs still sound fresh today. Available from www.cherryred.co.uk


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Text Kim Harten, 2015.