Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Something Old, Something New, Shoo-be-do-be-do


Nik Turner has had a long and eclectic career in music.

Known mainly for his work with Hawkwind, but dabbling and experimenting in all manner of musical concepts and genres; he has probably collaborated with more underground musicians than any other artist.

At present he fronts a R&B, jazz, dance band - as mentioned in my previous Nik Turner post - and Kubano Kickasso, released in 2003, captures his present sound pretty well; but as with Hawkwind, his band tends to have members with very itchy feet.

But back in the early eighties, long before Nik started playing jazz and R&B, the arty post punk scene grabbed his attention, and before long he was gigging with a new band: Inner City Unit.

Their first couple of albums were fairly chaotic affairs but caused a lot of interest in the alternative scene, appealing to punks, crusties, bikers as well as the hippy crew who were still into the whole prog thing.

By 1985, the band had pretty much run out of steam; but they did manage to produce what I think is their best album, The President's Tapes.

Not well received initially, which may account for its lack of CD release, but over the course of time I think it has travelled very well (better than the earlier releases); still sounding good, and as with all ICU's albums, tracks cross effortlessly across genre boundaries.

The opening number, 'Stonehenge Who Knows?', conspicuously reveals Turner's roots, sounding not a million miles away from Hawkwind's sound, circa Hall of the mountain Grill.

But by the second track, 'President's Tapes', the band acknowledge punk's influence big time, and a much harder edge is established.

After that it all starts to mash together, which essentially was what Inner City Unit was all about.

'The World of LSD' is a curious piece; a suite of music emulating the psychedelic experience.
Paranoia and all.
Space Punk? Maybe.

'Fungus Among Us' is the track that indicates where Turner's sound would be heading once he'd finished being a punk rocker.

And in the early days of Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars, 'Fungus Among Us' was one of the few Inner City Unit tracks he would still play.

Inner City Unit - The President's Tapes (1985)

Stonehenge Who Knows?
President's Tape
Newspeak
Europaville
Fungus Among Us
I.C.U.
World of LSD
Big Foot
Zodiac

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Get space punked here

Despite Kubano Kickasso being essentially a dance album in the mode of jazz and R&B, it's still pretty far out and spacey; opening with a wonderful bit of dialogue setting the scene:

"My name is Chief Frank Buckshaft Standing Horse.
I am an Odawa Indian, and in ninety-fifty-nine, on July the twelfth, I took a trip in a flying saucer."

Kind of a neat way to introduce a jazzy R&B album!

So with Inner City Unit Turner brought us space punk.
Here he brings us space swing, space jazz and far out R&B!

It's a really fine album this, and hey, it'll go down well if you wanna kick the rug back over the holiday period and get on down and sweaty.

Just dig that Hammond playing on the very cool 'Watermelon Man', and after hearing 'Sidewinder', you'll just wish you'd learn to play the sax.

And despite all the past legendary, freaky behaviour, the far out road stories and the rock and roll excesses, this album certainly verifies Nik Turner as being a mighty fine mother of a sax player.

He can really blow that thing!

Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars - Kubano Kickasso (2003)

LDZ
Dangle From the Angle
So What
Skatrane (Last Train to Skasville)
Watermelon Man
Grooveyard
Gibralter
Sidewinder
Phat Man
James Brown
Cantelopue Island
Jive Samba

Full CD Artwork included.
Grab yourself some of that jazz man here

13 comments:

devotionalhooligan said...

nice one roy,i've got all the icu stuff on vinyl-which i'll get round to posting when i can find the time [i've gotta move my pc into the next room].
it's great to have a digital copy of the President's Tapes.
yeah i'm into Iain Sinclair-you too?
radio 4 have had somebody reading from his new hackney book... it's on listen again i'm told[i missed it].
i only discovered your message on my other blog yesterday...
take care mate.x

pinkpressthreat said...

Roy yr a diamond-I've been an ICU fan since 1982 and They're playing my town Friday 16th (Brighton Hydrant) for Judge Trev's 60th(!),so I have something to listen to that I haven't heard for aeons.Cheers!!
p.s.I still think "The Maximum Effect" is their best.

pinkpressthreat said...

Oh-Hey devotionalhooligan!! Don't take too long with that icu vinyl willya? Cos,due to an "itinerant lifestyle" which has now thankfully calmed down,I lost all the stuff I had of theirs (except "The Maximum Effect).I must check out this Ian Sinclair book you mentioned too.Cheers :)

roy rocket said...

Hey! Enjoy Nik.
I'm sure you will.
He was 70 recently!
Not that you'd know it.
There's hope for us all...

Cheers for your comments.
Shanti, roy

pinkpressthreat said...

Yeah I enjoyed the gig..Captain Sensible was there and got up onstage to play guitar with Nik Turner for "Masters of the Universe"!!

Niall Moon said...

Brilliant blog, any chance you can re-upload the president's tapes. Got all their stuff on vinyl, a digital copy would be great. Also if anyones got an upload od maximum effect, or, even better the cassettte edition maxout would be gratefully received.

roy rocket said...

I'll get round to fixing the 'President's Tapes' link over the next couple of days (look for Mediafire link).

I have some live Maximum Effect: 'Carlisle, Stars & Stripes, 1986', which is a great set (& decent recording) - happy to post if that's any good...? roy

roy rocket said...

'President's Tapes' fixed.

Niall Moon said...

Thanks for fixing the President's Tapes link. Still sounds brilliant after all these years.

I actually meant the icu 2nd LP called The Maximum Effect. Been searching for a digital copy for years. Has epitaph for the Hippies and In the mood on.

roy rocket said...

Ah.
Don't have that one; but I'll ask around...

E Craig said...

Great stuff. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There's a torrent out there, called "icu-sphynx" (just google this phrase and you'll get a whole bunch of links). Of course, torrent is not exactly what one wants to get, but still there are some rarities worth dying for (including various Turner's Sphynx tapes), despite most files are in somewhat low bitrate...
Hope it helps. Cheers)

pinkpressthreat said...

Much obliged, anonymous.
Well,it's been over 2 years since I first left a comment on this post, and since then we have sadly lost Judge Trev...tomorrow night at Brighton Brunswick I'm off to the 2nd Judge Trev Memorial gig. Come down if you can; Inner City Unit are headlining; should be a blast, and glasses will be raised in memory of Trev x