Friday, June 10, 2011

The Wolfgang Press-The Burden Of Mules

For some reason or another, I never really gave these guys a chance. I just assumed they were a little too dancey for my likings. So I just wrote them off, as I am apt to do. Then I was told that these guys were part of my beloved Rema-Rema, but I was still resistant since I seem to remember hearing them at some point as dismissing it. But I finally broke down and gave this a listen and instantly felt like a dolt. If you're like me and prefer Flowers of Romance over Metal Box (okay, I miss Levine actually playing guitar) then this is a continuation of those claustrophobic tropes that made that album such a success. It almost makes you feel like you're participating in some alien ritual. I'm just glad I'm not the one being sacrificed.



  1. I always felt this was more derivative than a continuation. Maybe it just disappoints a little because it can't really live up to the brilliance of Flowers of Romance. I've never been able to make my mind up about whether I prefer Metal Box. Depends on my mood I think, although Metal Box obviously wins hands down on the packaging.

  2. Maybe so. Perhaps I'm a little partial to this since i was completely taken unawares by its charms.

    Now the Metal Box/FOR debate. It's like arguing betwixt oxygen & water. Both are utter essential. In certain circumstances one is preferred over the other. Packaging & fidelity (when not scratched to shit as so many original copies are) give the edge to MB. Experimentation & development goes to FOR. God, this is such a circular argument. Instead, it seems like we should focus on why these are still considered (by far too many) footnote albums. In my mind, with the proper historical distance, these two albums will be considered as an ultimate achievement of music of that period as much the composers we currently value. Synthesising dub/psych/punk/prog/rock/classical/ethic/jazz...fuck, just about every sound available, these records still sound futuristic. Not in that "we have flying cars with built in electric shavers" but sounds that still seem near impossible to produce. I know I'm sounding overly verbose about these records, but I truly believe they are that vital, especially after the punk watershed. These albums demonstrated that there was (at least for some people)some logic and intelligence to the entire punk movement. And it was connected not only to weirdo fringe hippies, but spanned cultures and eras. In numerous ways, they are the preeminent post-modern bookends. One(MB)is a synthesis of the sounds available to ears at the time, the other (FOR) is the extension and (in my mind) the conclusion of where those sounds lead. I find it interesting that MB is the sound that people still try to replicate. Is it because you can actually dance to it. There's certainly plenty of pain behind many of the tracks so I find it hard to believe that it's considered a "feel good" album. Rather, I think it's just that FOR is dense and, at times, a masochistic listening experience. Not in the way that a noise record might function but in a mode that really lays bare the insecurities (neuroses? psychoses?) of the musicians involved. But it's those challenging listens that I find to be the true achievements. As much as I love my sugary pop, it's those albums that I might listen to every 5 years that really seem to stick in my mind.

    Oh well...that's just me being a wind bag now. I'm just glad someone ts to talk about actually want to talk about those albums. Obviously, I have too much to say on the subject.

    So yeah, this one is derivative in some sense, but I'll still tip my hat to those who actually attempt such a herculean endeavor.

  3. Flowers of Romance wins simply by having fully introduced the world to Martin Atkins (sure, sure, he's on one song on MB). But there is no reason to choose betwixt those great albums.

  4. Preferring more form to my substance, I've always enjoyed 'The Legendary Wolfgang Press..." more than 'Burden of Mules'. To each his own.

    Always test bass with "Albatross". And/or Iggy's mix of 'Raw Power' turned to 11.

    I currently have no speakers :-)