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Friday, August 27, 2010

Angry Samoans: Return To Samoa


1) Are You A Square? 2) Permanent Damage; 3) D For The Dead; 4) 1981 (Trip Or Freak); 5) Matchstick Men; 6) Radio Ad; 7) Posh Boy’s Cock; 8) Time To Fuck; 9) Wild Thing; 10) Somebody To Love.

A bunch of outtakes from I'm not exactly sure when; the album itself was sort of semi-official and is likely impossible to find in non-bootlegged form. My own bootlegged copy comes with a healthy addition of more than 15 live tracks played in some lousy NYC joint around 1981, which gives a fairly decent picture of what the band was really all about at its dubious peak. But the al­bum «proper» is just ten tracks that run the typically Samoan length of 20 minutes.

The songs mostly catch the Samoans in a transitional state here, fresh off the humorous/mental hardcore of Back From Samoa and starting to pick up with the retro-garage thing. There is a very, very intentionally lame cover of 'Somebody To Love', exactly the way a retired rock critic and an upcoming PhD in math would be covering it while being drunk or while pretending to be drunk; and a much tighter, but still lame version of 'Wild Thing' with improvised ad-libbed vocals that break all possible taboos in the crudest ways (best moment: an impassioned "put your face in my p...", then, suddenly aware of unwanted and­rogynous connotations, "my p... penis!"). There is even a rendition of Status Quo's 'Matchstick Men' that starts off very faithful to the famous psy­chedelic drone of the original before launching off into hardcore heaven.

'D For The Dead' may be of interest to B-culture addicts, the Samoans' only anthem to zombie flicks; '1981', both with its title and with its melody, is a clear, and not very exciting, evocation of the Stooges' '1969'; and there might be lots of other references that I'm too lazy to write about. The real good news, however, is that in sloppy outtake form, the Samoans may be even better than they are in the final version — because Saunders' and Turner's ideology is faithfully reflec­ted on albums like Back From Samoa in all but one respect: the required spontaneity feels arti­ficial and staged. With the likes of "put your face in my penis", though, it's all too real. Return To Samoa proves, once and for all, that these guys were quite willing to live out their rock'n'roll alter egos at least in the studio, if not always in real life.

On stage, too, if you take into account the live bonus tracks from 1981, where they play most of the stuff from their first two albums and then aimlessly meander and dick around in between the tracks, shooting off their mouths, inserting quotes from 'Matchstick Men' and 'Smoke On The Wa­­ter' and cool-heartedly remarking that "this must be the third amp we've killed tonight" along the way. Piss-poor sound quality and thin applause from a colossal audience of about five or six people complete the perfection of the picture. Thumbs up, of course. What other choice?

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