DEAD FINGERS TALK `Storm The Reality Studios’ (Pye) *** 1/2 Sounds 17.6.78
I’VE NEVER seen Dead Fingers Talk live, but you get the feeling from this record that they must go over well: the powerful presentation, sly stylisation and expert musicianship auger well for onstage performances. That apart, I still like this, a Mick Ronson production with especially finely rendered guitars and overall neatly balanced despite a bit of wateriness in the vocal department.
A very original mulch of material here, obvious influences but well-blended and interesting. The more I played it the more it got a hold on me. The `obvious influences’ are Lou Reed, but it’s no derivative drivel. `Electric City’ is a night time trip down the alleys of the sleepless wonder, with a hook which oddly resembles that in Free’s `All Right Now’. `Nobody Loves You When You’re Old And Gay’ exhibits a smooth change-up of pace and Tony Carter’s stylish drumming; throughout the album he retains a light, bouncing touch which rescues some of the numbers from dreary monotony and elsewhere (notably `Old And Gay’) creates a breezy, unselfconscious, somersaulting rhythm which seems to inspire the others. BoBo Phoenix’s double tracked sly vocals complete the picture: `Old And Gay’ is a touch Tom Robinson (and John Lennon?).
`Storm The Reality Studios’ itself is a grudging, grunting stutter with a pop chorus, `Some people wanna fuck you up/some people just wanna fuck’. The rhythm section is out of the very best cock-a-hoop blues, from Bluesbreakers through to Cream’s ; `Spoonful’, incorporating the same odd melody strain that the latter band used so successfully.
Side two illustrates the worst aspects of trying to put a good live band on vinyl: long, well-acted numbers onstage can lose all impact. `Fight Our Way Out Of Here’ starts excellently with Hendrix licks and then degenerates into overlong, repetitious machinery-beat – automated rock. About four minutes too long and very destructive of an initial impact, slopping Bo Bo’s lyrics into stodgy lumps that stick in his throat. In fact, throughout his lyrics could have been given a finer edge by the production. `We Got The Message’ rehashes `Sweet Jane’, you’ve heard it a million times before and, depending on your mood, it’ll grab you or send you back to your Debbie Harry pics. The finale `Can’t Think Straight’ features a hook out of `Sunshine Of Your . Love’ and scatters Hendrix all over the place.
While I’ve picked up a great amount of respect for this band from this recording, the main feel is that there is a need to hone their cutting edge.