Listen Up: Wednesday, January 9, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Deviants

Dr. Crow (Track Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Mick Farren’s a lit Brit who was present at the creation of both hippie and punk in the U.K. He’s been a rock scribe and social commentator for the International Times, OZ, and NME. Busted twice under Britain’s (no fooling) Obscene Publications Act, he fought the law and won. After his anarchic 1960s speedfreak band the Deviants collapsed in 1970, he reinvented himself as an apocalyptic visionary, writer of pulp sci-fi, Elvis obsessive, and paranoid conspiracy theorist. In recent years, he’s authored a successful series of vampire novels called the Renquist Quartet, the final volume of which, Underland, was just published by Tor. More to the point, he’s revived the Deviants and made a new record.

The Deviants exist somewhere in the territory between jazzy spoken word and the dregs of psychedelia, between Jack Lancaster’s saxophone and Andy Colquhoun’s stinging acid-blues guitar. At their brooding best, the Deviants project an air of real menace. The rhythm section of bassist Doug Lunn and drummer Ric Parnell (who played one of the doomed percussionists in This Is Spinal Tap) keeps things percolating, but the centerpiece of the sound is Farren’s acerbic lyrics. And he doesn’t sing so much as he declaims, in the voice of an evil Jeremy Irons.

Farren duets with Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano on a blasted-sounding cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “You’re Going to Need Somebody On Your Bond.” “The Murdering Officer” sets Farren’s bleak urban vision to a warped sea chantey, while “Taste the Blue” makes the blues sound sinister. And “A Long Dry Season” recaptures some of the vibe of Farren’s best record, 1995’s The Deathray Tapes. The shtick should sound familiar to Tom Waits fans, but Farren’s been at it since 1968.


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