Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Hidden Gem: Me and Guiliani down by the schoolyard (A true story) - !!! (Warp)

I play records out from time to time. Nothing special – just pubs and bars – to anyone who’ll listen. There are certain records I’ll pack time and time again – Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan and You can’t hide your love by David Joseph are two that spring to mind. Records that never fail to sound good or get people dancing.

There is one record however that is a bit of a weird one. I pack it time and time again and yet never play it. Often I cue it up but it never feels quite right – sometimes it sounds too upbeat, other times too downbeat, sometimes too guitary and other times too in your face. Its a record that isn’t quite like any other record I own (and I own a fair few) its Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story) by !!!.

The whole package is intriguing. Take the band name - !!! – how are you supposed to pronounce that?! Then there is the packaging, lime green with black exclamation marks – you’d think it was an electroclash record from the cover. Inside is an insert which thanks the people that came to their parties that 'didn’t throw beer at cops' and the lyrics to the song which suggest that NYC Mayor’s Guiliani and Bloomberg lose their inhibitions and dance.

Finally you put the record on and this is the real revelation. For this record has three to four distinct phases – it starts out as a fairly standard Rapture/LCD Soundsystem type thing (!!! Came out of the same NY punk-funk scene post millennium) but then takes on the Happy Mondays and the Stooges before climaxing in a funky accapella. Throughout the whole song, the solid drums and an infectious bassline hold the whole thing together. It almost like the history of cool rock n roll in one song. Hints of pre punk, post punk, acid house and punk funk combine to create a thrilling 9 minutes. Bizarely its on Warp records, a label better known for its tasteful electronica.

!!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk) are actually from Sacramento and have released four albums the last of which (Strange Weather, isn't it)was recorded in Berlin and came out in the last few weeks. They've encountered tragedy along the way - their drummer Jerry Fuchs was killed in 2009 by falling down a lift shaft while original drummer Mikel Guis was killed in a car crash in 2007, they've also encountered numerous line up changes, but have managed to produce some quality sounds along the way. Myth Takes (released in 2007) is particularly good. Imagine Red Hot Chilli Peppers if they had remained true to their crazy punk funk roots rather than selling out to the man - showcasing a variety of styles, creating a sense of playful adventurism and you get the picture.

Having said that, nothing in !!!'s work quite matches Me and Guiliani. It really is a unique record, a classic on its own terms and the song which will always be the fans favourite (see also The Man Don't Give a Fuck by Super Furry Animals, Losing my Edge by LCD Soundsystem or Sanctuary by Iron Maiden). Who knows, maybe one day I'll even get to play it to you...

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