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The Muffins - 185 CD (album) cover


The Muffins

Canterbury Scene

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Steve Hegede
5 stars This album smokes! The CD has two different versions of <185>, one version is full of overdubs and electronic effects (added by Fred Frith) and the other version is much rawer. Since this is my first album by The MUFFINS I really don't mind the produced version of <185> which starts the CD. But, many long time fans were surprised when they first heard the fancier version of The MUFFINS when <185> was originally released. So, the band decided to release a rawer version of the album which was similar to their live sound (and the sound on their older albums). Anyway, the music is absolutely incredible. The sax/bass/drum playing is really aggressive, quirky, and fast on ideas. At times I'm reminded of a progressive ska band because of the horn section, and at other times they sound more avant-garde. Overall, this will probably impress those who don't really like RIO.
Report this review (#27698)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This one is dominated by the language of free jazz. The dissonances and complexity is going here very, very far. Musicianship and crazyness is still at the top but clearly the band is not anymore a rock band. Rewarding in the best way to the most complex side of RIO lovers this one is not recommended to the amateur of more classical prog or even "Soft" RIO.
Report this review (#36880)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most schizophrenic releases that I've heard! I've listening the CD reissue containing two different versions of the album. In late 1980, the Muffins were approached by Fred Frith with an offer to produce and guest on an album of material that he had heard the Muffins play. According to the offcial Muffins web page this albums contains ten tracks of Frith and Muffins composed and improvised material, and you can feel the power and energy of this reunion in every song, including the remixed pieces even when this last ones are not so good as the originals.

Muffins explores different textures and sounds with a great work on wind instruments (specially on Angle Dance) and a superb work of Mr. Frith on guitar. Totally avant garde and sometimes even close to zeuhl every song is provocative and dynamic, full of constant changes and an exquisite sense of timing. Some other highlights: Zoom Resume, Under Dali's Wing and my favourite, These Castle Children.

Definitively is not so good as Manna / Mirage but the album sounds great, outrageous and raw, complex and at the same time full of improvisations... Highly recommended to any RIO fan!!!

Report this review (#100153)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars The amazing thing with The Muffins is that they've released only one album while they were together (the debut Mana/mirage) but have released some four or five albums posthumously from the period where they were indeed a group. I was never sure whether this album ever did see the light of the day before Frith actually reproduce the album by adding his own touch in 81, but by the time the second version was released, The Muffins were no more (at least I think).

In either case, we get both versions on the same disc, which is of course a treat but also a real flaw. Even though there are differences between the two versions, who really wants to sit a double dose of this RIO? That RIO is often excellent (reminding me of the better Samla Manna), crossed with some Henry Cow (what a surprise, uh? ;-) attitudes, but the weird thing is that both albums do not bear the same tracks sequence or even the exact same track list; . Often the music is more of an improvised music that borders free-jazz, without really crossing the boundary. BTW, Frith does bring something to The Muffins' music, but whatever it is, I'm not sure it was really all that positive, because I prefer the original version.

On the one hand, this album is indeed the other facet of The Muffins, but really the one that most progheads will prefer is definitely the Canterbury soundscapes that seeped through the pores of Mana/Mirage. But that doesn't make this album any less worthy, even if it less essential to this writer's eyes (or should I say ears?).

Report this review (#125515)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars In the book called "The Russians" there is a procedure in the story where certain classified material in libraries in the Soviet Union was stamped "<185>". This is where they came up with the title for this album.

Many people descibe the music on here as a cross between SOFT MACHINE and HENRY COW and I can't disagree. Fred Frith produced and played on this record, and it took only two days to record this album, and two days for mixing. The band heard over the years from fans and friends alike that this record did not sound like them. Which is why on this cd we have two versions of "<185>", with the second version being a re-mix from the original master tapes. They didn't re-mix the three improvs from the original album though, just skipping them completely. Apparently the re-mixed version is about as close to what this band sounds live as you'll here. I personally much prefer this version mainly because it sounds much cleaner and clearer to me. As usual with this band we get a lot of sax, clarinet and flute, along with piano, organ, violin, guitar, drums, bass and fuzz bass.

This band should be held in high esteem in my opinion, they're absolutely brilliant with the challenging and innovative music they present. I consider "<185>" to be an important part of my collection.

Report this review (#175018)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink

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