- 29 Sep 21
The Golden Band
It’s a good question for the next Hot Press pub pop quiz: what album features both a former Beatle and a former member of The Velvet Underground? Who else but arch post-modern genre benders Super Furry Animals could boast such a green room? Despite the guest list, the eventual Mercury nod, and the money the new record label threw at Rings Around The World back in 2001 it was, perhaps, just that little bit too out there to hit as hard commercially as was hoped, but the world would have been a better place had it done so.
The great singles - and they’ve always been one of the great singles bands, their Songbook compilation is right up there with The Best Of Blondie, Abba’s Gold, Complete Madness, etc. etc. - like the Beach Boys go glam and make a few phones calls of ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’, the gorgeous ‘It’s Not The End Of The World?', and the song that even a vocoder couldn’t ruin, ‘Juxtaposed With U’, are all eminently whistleable, and they’re not alone either. That’s Paul McCartney chewing vegetables in the background, just like he did for Brian Wilson back in the day, on the lovely bah, bah, bah, clappy pop of ‘Receptacle For The Respectable’, before the tempo changes and it goes right off the deep end, and that’s John Cale adding piano to ‘Presidential Suite’ with its faint echoes of ‘Northern Lites’ in the horn lines. These are but two examples of this album’s abundance of riches.
This 20th anniversary edition not only adds more remixes than any sane person - there's three CDs in this yoke in front of me and the third one is stuffed like a turkey in December - might want but also finds room for the great B-sides that most of us missed at the time, like the admirably named and rockin’ ‘Happiness Is A Worn Pun’, the equally-well-monikered T.Rex-after-a-heavy-one of ‘Gypsy Space Muffin’ and the is-that-an-impression-of-Buck-Rogers-shortarse-robot-at-the-start sea shanty ‘Tradewinds’. Why these great songs, and let’s include ‘Edam Anchorman’ and ‘The Roman Road’ in the list, were not on the original album is a mystery, but the law-unto-themselves that SFA have always been is one of the reasons why they’re so great. Freewheeling and joyously inventive, this marvellous album might not have quite circled the globe, but it certainly ran rings around the opposition.