Membranes - Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! The Complete Recordings 1980 - 1993 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Membranes - Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! The Complete Recordings 1980 - 1993

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2017-04-28

Christened a ‘Tatty Seaside Town’ by the Membranes on their 1988 Kiss Ass…Godhead! LP there’s a lot to be said for Blackpool. Not least the fact that its home to John Robb’s fantastically underrated post-punk outfit. For me, the mere mention of Blackpool brings back memories of childhood and huge, luminous effigies of Coronation Street characters. Yet, for anyone that’s seen Jeremy Dyson’s darkly humourous Funland series they will know that something altogether darker is often lurking behind the candyfloss and donkey rides. It’s this potent mix of darkness and humour that the Membranes tap into so successfully.  

Everyone’s Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! is a veritable treasure trove of post-punk madness stretched out over five jam-packed CD’s and covering the bands output from 1980 through 1993. One of the upsides to the current thirst for nostalgia means that more obscure acts like this get the kind of well-done and comprehensive reissues they deserve. I first came to the Membranes through their 2015 comeback album, the mind-blowing Dark Matter/Dark Energy. That album and seeing the band perform an astonishingly energetic set at The Brudenell Social Club ensured the band a place in my heart. With this in mind, this boxset of the bands earlier material is very much appreciated.

It’s often a bit of an intimidating task trying to review something like this, a boxset representing over a decade’s worth of work. We’re looking at five whole studio albums and a whole bunch of singles, EP’s and curiosities to delve through.

We begin our journey with 1983’s Crack House and the muscular thud of opening track ‘Get a Head’. The album introduces us to the band in their rawest state; drums beating out a war dance as the songs bludgeon the listener into blissful submission. It’s not rocket science but it is bloody good. The first CD also includes their bigger, longer and even more manic follow up, 1985’s The Gift of Life. It’s here that we’re exposed to the likes of the wonderfully wonky ‘Mr Charisma Brain’ and the superbly titled ‘Typical Male Penis’. Two LP’s rammed-full of primal, chest-beating, adrenaline fuelled madness.

The next disc begins with one of the bands finest songs, the ridiculously exciting ‘Everything’s Brilliant’. Taken from a 1986 EP of the same name, ‘Everything’s Brilliant’ shows the band progressing without sacrificing any of their raw energy and manages to brilliantly capture the spirit of the times. Lest we forget that the eighties were a fertile time for underground/ alternative music in the UK (such a shame that the entire decade is often dismissed as being a mess of questionable fashion and cheesy, one-hit wonders).

The following album, Songs of Love and Fury is a glorious mess of relentless energy, at times recalling some scrappy yet beautiful hybrid of Killing Joke, The Fall and The Wedding Present.  There’s a genuinely thrilling sense of optimism here too, just listen to the aptly titled ‘Big Fun Tonight’ for proof.

By the third disc the band has truly hit their stride. the Membranes most confrontational and, in many ways, most startling LP, 1988’s Kiss Ass…Godhead! is a dark and blistering scream into the abyss. It also has the honour of being one of the first albums to be recorded by Steve Albini. This is the uncompromising noise-rock stylings of Big Black and The Jesus Lizard repackaged with lashings of eccentricity and a feeling that some of this music could only have come from a band growing up in a chilly Northern seaside resort.

So yes, ‘Viva! Spanish Turncoat’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Big Black’s seminal Songs about Fucking but the likes of the punky ‘Tatty Seaside Town’ will be eternally tied to these shores. The CD also contains one of the bands most renowned singles in the form of the kooky ‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder’. There's also the gloriously danceable ‘Groovy Fuckers’ which is worth the price of entry alone.  

Disc four continues to impress with the dark, experimental sounds of To Slay the Rock Pig and no less than three EP’s. So much of this music will have been unavailable, or at least difficult to obtain physically, for so many years that it’s a real thrill to listen to. The propulsive chug of ‘Auto Flesh’ starts the album in fine style; a throbbing beast of wiry riffs, industrial rhythms and impassioned vocals.

I’ve mentioned a number of different acts throughout this review yet while sharing some obvious common ground, it has to be said that the Membranes remain something of a unique proposition. The song titles continue to wink slyly at us through the sweaty punk aesthetic, with the likes of ‘England Expects Every Man to do his Booty’ showing a band more than comfortable with putting its tongue in its collective cheek. I mean, they did call themselves Membranes.

The final disc brings us full circle by starting with the bands very first release, 1980’s flexi-disc Flexible Membrane and the songs ‘Fashionable Junkies’ and ‘Almost China’. The two tracks are both incredibly short, charming and strangely innocent hits of post-punk goodness. These wonderfully naïve sounding initial steps continue with the catchy bounce of the band’s first proper single ‘Muscles’. You can feel the bands enthusiasm and love for what they do from the very start.

It’s a marvellous sound and it’s heartening to think that the same band would still be touring and recording come 2017. If you consider yourself a bit of a post-punk aficionado but haven’t heard the music contained within Everyone’s Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! then you really are missing an important part of the puzzle. The Membranes make, and continue to make, a joyous and life affirming racket.

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