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Here & Now - What You See Is What You Are CD (album) cover


Here & Now

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An unusual LP, in that it is split between "Prog Space Punks" Here and Now and the underground punk of Alternative TV. Both bands are playing live, and this mix is taken from the mixing desk - and you can safely assume there are no overdubs or other nasty tampering, which makes this all the more incredible, as the presence of both bands is striking.

The sound quality is less than amazing, but once you've got over that, Here and Now deliver a performance with legs - Kieth's missile bass tighter than the average gnat's chuff wandering around Kif Kif's precise, yet somehow rock'n'roll loose drums, Steffi turning in some solid rhythm and lead guitar lines around Gavin Da Blitz's great impersonations of Tim Blake with more wobbly spacey synth lines than the average Hawkwind album, Jack Neat's solid sax solos, and the most solid jamming you are likely to hear this side of Amon Duul II, but with less of a retrospective look. I won't cover this song again, as I gave it a blow-by-blow in my review of "Give and Take".

"Dog In Hell" begins with some psychotic wierdness, then drops to a lazy gutter-reggae style with drugged out vocals taking the Percy out of that sort of individual. da Blitz's Tim Blake warblings hail a change into manic rantings about doggies in the window - I'm strongly reminded of Peter Hammill's "Nadir's Big Chance" with Johnny Rotten on vocals. There's another fantastic change into a hypnotic repetitive riff. This is deliberate "I am a Robot...", and there follows another ranting about how robotic human beings tend to become. The ambient musical development is minimalistic, and rather good - especially the drop-down section, which is strongly reminiscent of Hawkwind.

"Addicted" is a style change again this is a really unique hybrid of punk and reggae, with da Blitz flicking his oscillators all over the place... This song contains the wonderful line "I'm addicted to coffee, I'm addicted to tea - I think cigarettes are addicted to me", and some of the most inspired space rock jamming ever - and that includes Hawkwind - with a monster riff from hell... you may require imagination to hear what it would sound like with good production though. It puts me immediately in mind, sight, touch and smell of a hundred free festivals - the type that are specifically NOT organised and consequently have no-one at the top controlling musical content... and no toilets either.

Anyway, "Addicted" is worth getting this album for alone. "What You See Is What You Are" offers little over the "Give and Take" version except the sax solo, and "Dog In Hell" is very interesing.

Here and Now are a unique punk/reggae/space prog band - how many other bands combine all those styles? You need some in your collection, and "Floating Anarchy" with the Planet Gong band is a good start, "Give and Take" is good to graduate to, and "Fantasy Shift" is probably a complete culture shock.

This album would make a good single Here and Now E.P. to own - bearing in mind you'll probably only listen to a very small part of the "Alternative TV side" - if you can track it down.

A pity really, since this is the rare type of "intelligent" punk, where the "musicians" are very creative and take intriguing approaches to riff-writing. If you think punk is the Sex Pistols or Green Day, think again - this is closer in attitude to "Nadir's Big Chance" for the first couple of tracks, while "Fellow Sufferer" is actually closer to Here and Now in style, and another high point of this album, ATV creating plenty of hypnotic space and dark moodiness in a piece that many other bands would turn into a dreadful dirge. "Splitting In Two" has a quite wonderful fuzz bass intro - who says you need more than one note to create good music? Very much like the (later) Killing Joke, this is a raw, tribal-feeling, fuzz-drenched treat of ever-increasing intensity for scaring the neighbours.

Punks today? Hah! They don't know the meaning of the word!!

Three stars stands for "Good but non-essential", so I'm awarding 3.5 stars - Good, possibly not essential, but very worthwhile, progressive (in the literal sense) and enjoyable - certainly a good addition to any prog music collection, especially where the progger in question enjoys, say, the Stranglers, the Damned, Killing Joke, P/I/L or the Clash on the sly. ;0).

Report this review (#52300)
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Not A Studio LP.

The Here and Now side brings together live versions of all of their Charley records single releases. Starting with the rather twee "What You See Is What You Are" Tis starts off with a some rather un-together girls singing but finally takes off and becomes a rather powerful pop song, There is of course an excellent and spirited guitar solo by Steffi and a rather badly delivered vocal by Keith the Bass, all held in place by some plodding but sound bass work. " Dog In Hell" how much is that doggy in the window the one that cries bonafide tears Kif Kif continues to wallow in his moment of stardom and wrecks yet another otherwise competent space rocker. this time the lyric is quite interesting and its only by bellowing it out that he manages to kill the feel. "addicted" end this poorly produced and disappointing side of here and now's music. I caught Here and Now many many times over the years and its true to say that at times they played some scorching space rock, most notably when given the opportunity to play through Hawkwinds PA at Stonehenge. When ever Kif Kif shut up and they just jammed they certainly would have given gong or hawkwind a run for their money. Later Kif kif left and they improved immeasurable as a live act playing sensible space rock with just a little prog twist. Other low points of this recording are the synthesizer burps pops and weals live they sounded OK but on this recording they are almost always miss-timed. Possible this was due to the home made nature of their synth. Steffi sharp-strings really was a great guitarist but the rest of the musicianship is only a littel above awful. Kif Kifs drumming is terrible throughout possibly because he was singing most of the time. The bass playing is a little better and that sexist on sax is actually quite good who ever he was. The ATV side is utterly unmemorable and is also badly produced into the bargain. A strange release in any case this is worth buying as a document of this period of Here and Now sadly it is neither there best period or the best recording. The Charley singles of this time are incredible hard to find and worth seeking out as they bring the material presented above into focus and although they also suffer from Kif Kif they are not half bad a must for serious Gong collectors as well as Here and Now fans.

Report this review (#92675)
Posted Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permalink

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