PARADISE9 – STATE OF THE NATION
One could be forgiven if one saw this lot lounging on the steps of the local war memorial for dismissing them as a group of hardened alco-ex-jobseekers-now long-term benefit fraudsters. They certainly do a good impression of being just that…
They turn out to be, however, none other than top space/punk rock beatsters Paradise9. And they’re here today to introduce to you their latest cd/ep ‘State of the Nation.’
Regular followers of ZigZag Wanderings will be aware that I can be frequently found singing their praises either on disc or at gig. They really are my number one fave artists. This one’s been available for a little while now but one thing and another has got in the way of me giving it a proper going over for you.
The compact EP format gives me a welcome opportunity to give you my track-by-track assessment of what’s in the package.
I must tell you before launching into the critique, that the record was mastered by Andy Jackson, who was responsible for Floyd’s ‘Division Bell’ album and engineered, mixed and co-produced [with Gregg McKella] by Steve Rispin – who must be held to account for various product by Asia, Uriah Heep, Focus and Wishbone Ash.
More importantly it contains the very last studio work by Judge Trev, famed for his role in forming Nik Turner’s Inner City Unit , Brighton’s Real Music Club and a big name in the festival circuit. Trev, sadly, passed away last year after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He will be fondly remembered as the ultimate ageing hippie [and I mean that as a compliment] by all who ever saw him performing or just enjoying somebody else’s music.
Track 1 – title track ‘State of the Nation’ is one of P9’s social comment type thangs which have been so highly acclaimed in the past [cf back catalogue: Nothing for Tomorrow, These Days]. Post punk anthem in a Strummeresque vain.” State of the Nation. Out of control. State of the Nation. Hitting an all time low.” And so say all of us….
Track 2 – ‘Is This the Time’ seems to be more personal politics than national crisis. It’s a quirky little ditty that gives this collection a direction which is quite different to any of the other three. In fact that illustrates the power of P9 – they are just totally not happy to remain in any one groove for more than the duration of a single song. Which begs the question – why don’t Paradise9 release everything they do as a single – they’d be feeding several markets at once and would sooner or later score a bull’s eye which would catapult them to fame and glory and they could abandon gigging in sweaty little holes around Brighton…wait a minute – that’s not a good idea at all – forget I said that.
Track 3 - ‘Ocean Rise’ is probably my favourite track on the record – it’s proper spacial psychedelia – the like of which you might expect to hear from Amon Duul II. It heavily features Gregg McKella [the maestro of the group] blowing on his somewhat electronically modified clarine. Speaking as a old time progger, both feet firmly planted in the Van Der Graaf Generator camp, there just can’t be enough music in this vein. Comes complete with seagulls and breaking waves – nice!
Track 4 – ‘Distant Dreams’ – a real hippie visionary song, a la Donovan or String Band maybe, so suitable for a sunny afternoon at a local festival and appropriately one on which Judge Trev plays trippy acoustic guitar meanderings – beautiful wishful thinking!
So, to sum up, Paradise9 maintain their unassailable place as number one alternative popsters in my book at least. Check ‘em out and see if they’re your faves too!