Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bigod 20 - Steel Works! (1992)

I bought this having suffered a sudden awareness of greatly missing Front 242, and having somehow got my wikiwires crossed by means amounting to the mistaken belief of Bigod 20 being some sort of Front 242 solo project. Unfortunately this turned out to be entirely untrue, said crossed wires resulting from Front 242's Jean-Luc de Meyer lending both lyrics and tonsils to The Bog, and possibly also resulting from the fact that Steel Works! so much resembles the work of a Front 242 tribute act that I'm not sure I would have been able to tell the difference had someone tried to flog this to me as the genuine article. Okay, so maybe they're not quite identical, at least in so much as it's possible to tell the difference between Blink 182 and Green Day, but you have to listen to this one a good few times before you notice the distinguishing features; and even then it's not easy to identify quite what those distinguishing features might be. The best way I can put it is that if Front 242 were channelling the robot from The Terminator, Bigod 20 represented the incarnate spirit of a big yellow digger, a JCB or something of the sort.

The Bog was also the title of one of the very first tracks I ever helped record as a member of the Pre-War Busconductors at the age of fourteen, predating the Bigod 20 song by a decade. I held the cassette recorder and described the process of trousers taken down whilst Eggy pretended to sit upon the lavatory and communicated the concept of excretion by blowing loud farting raspberry noises and trying not to laugh. The Bigod 20 song of the same name takes a quite different approach to its subject, sounding somewhat like a Tyranny >For You< out-take, as actually does a lot of this album - same bubbling sequencers and washes of pensive orchestral sound, and the grunting Herr Flick vocals, muscular EBM workout tracks for sweating men stomping about in clubs punctuated with slower numbers as the same men take a break and gaze solemnly into the northern sunset whilst thinking hard about destiny, or possibly about cocks and arseholes and all that good stuff. I actually have quite a low tolerance for this sort of marching up and down whilst frowning nonsense mainly because it's so fucking easy to churn it out without too much stress placed on anyone's imagination; despite which, and despite that Steel Works! might as well be the Barron Knights in a Belgian leather bar, it's hard to keep oneself from enjoying this album, so after a couple of plays I caved-in and just let my steel-capped toe tap away.

I still have to raise an eyebrow at America with its generic samples of US televangelists talking about Him upstairs, almost certainly an example of stomping Euroweenie politics along the lines of nyer nyer nyer you Americans with your guns, the point of which is muddied amongst soaring Olympian trumpet samples which make it sound like a song about how much Bigod 20 love America, and which makes me want to buy a hamburger from the nearest Hooters restaurant and then vote for George W. Bush, even though I can't because he's no longer a politician. I'm not even going to mention the irony of a German band whining about American cultural imperialism having recorded their entire album in heavily-accented English and released it through Bugs Bunny's parent company, although I just did, obviously.

Steel Works! is hopelessly unoriginal and full of shit, but somehow still a reasonably great album despite everything.

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