Here’s one I’m pretty sure won’t trigger howls of recognition from y’all, but a very fine one in places, Atom Seed Get In Line (from 1991). In fact, crazy cat that I am, I’m going to review my whole damn Atom Seed collection for you right now, which comprises their first EP I Don’t Want To Talk About It and the 12″ picture disc of Get In Line. But first I must slay a beast.
The beast in question being (shudders) funk metal. In their quest for eternal rock kicks, a team of scientists, rock journalists and archaeologists* found the lost tomb of Clin-Ton sometime in mid 1990. Ignoring the dire warnings carved there by the ancient guardians of rock (AGOR) of ‘a horrible plague that will, like totally suck and stuff, for millennia and spawn hundreds of really pants bands and force some established ones to buy bright shirts and pretend they liked funk all along’ – they opened the tomb. Sadly, they all died on the spot, all their life being sucked out of their mouths by the sound of a million slap bass solos as their corpses tumbled, desiccated on the sand. And thus it came to pass that Funk Rock/Funk Metal was spawned, and rock was quite a bit poorer as a result, for ages.
Now I’m not a fan of the (sub?) genre to start with, I have no time for RHCP** and I refuse to accept that the tag ever fitted, the mighty, Faith No More. So a group peddling these wares to me would have to be damn good to break through my defences, especially as English dudes are inherently unfunky^ and the Atom Seed were from London. But break through my defences, they did. They always got good write-ups in Kerrang! and when my mate Geraint played me their cassette, I really went for their yowling, over-caffeinated thang; but let’s do this all out of sync.
I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, was the Atom Seed’s initial EP (which I bought after their LP) released on the indie label Heavy Metal Records in 1990 which got them signed up to London Records. It manages the feat of sounding just like its own chaotic cover, although unlike said cover, the content isn’t as richly textured. The second side features two tracks, ‘What?!’ and ‘Shake That Thing’ which the band would go on to re-record for Get In Line, but it was the first side that was the pull for me with ‘Doghouse’ and ‘Sex Beat’. The former sounds like a sped up, funked up Cult but it’s badly produced, a bit cheap and echoey sounding. The latter resembles a teenage fumble in the back of a car, rather than anything more memorable, although at three minutes took twice as long. Relax guys, you don’t have to, umm, hit it like a road drill, take your time express yourselves it’ll be more fun for all of us.
Super fun fantastic fabulous 1537 trivia fact, I Don’t Want To Talk About It was produced by Jan Cyrka who went on to write the theme tune for, vile simpleton-baiting TV hellathon, The Jeremy Kyle Show.
The album Get In Line was obviously made on a bigger budget with Mark Flannery, who had worked as engineer to Mutt Lange on the likes of Hysteria and you can immediately tell, the sound quality is so much better. Listening to this LP again for the first time in at least a decade I was worried it may come over as a bit of a half-assed RHCP clone but with the exception of a couple of lesser tracks, ‘Bitchin”^^ and ‘Rebel’ (which they really should pay Kiedis and crew royalties on), it really does not. There’s a far heavier cast to Atom Seed’s sound and this really comes to the fore in the opening salvo of ‘What You Say’ and the title track, with the latter being the heaviest thing here by some distance.
At their best on the title track and the, aptly, towering ‘Castles In The Sky’ which adds a driving ‘Kashmir’ drone to their metal, Atom Seed swagger, strut and preen. When they hit their peak they really fly fast and the four musicians are very good, the rhythm section of Chris Dale and drummer Amir in particular – Dale went on to work with Bruce Dickinson on Skunkworks, co-writing some tracks, guitarist Simon James also lays down some particularly good solos here and there. I used to play Get In Line when getting ready to go out, in the days when I used to do such things and it works damn well for that and hits all the right feel good buttons.
It isn’t all fast, fast, fast, heavy, heavy though, there is some much-needed light and shade provided courtesy of my fave track on the LP, ‘Shot Down’ which comes over like the bastard child of a slow Cult tune and a decadent off-cut from the Stones circa Exile. Paul Cunningham’s vocals purr and cajole with exactly the right amount of tender and tough, nasty and nice to make this slow-burner work. ‘Better Day’ steals a trick from the intro to ‘Little Wing’ and comes on like a sublimely stoned day spent on a blanket in the park with a new lover.
Anyway, I also copped for the 12″ picture disc of the title track, Get In Line. This came complete with a competition to win a Gibson, which I didn’t – probably just as well for you guys or I’d probably be out busting up stadiums and fighting off hot chicks, rather than sitting here lighting up your lives and playing with Lego. ‘Get In Line’ had been remixed ‘The Razor Mix’ if you will and the band and Mark Flannery do seem to have tweaked the drums and levels so it is more up front and in your face and actually better – a bit of a first for a rock remix! It really does sound fast and tough here. Live B-side ‘Burn’ (not a Purple cover) is all over and done far too fast and we’re back to jet-propelled teenage fumblings again, not very satisfying.
Despite a train load of good reviews and a great live reputation it never quite happened for Atom Seed, I missed them in Leeds and thought ‘ah well, I’ll catch ’em next time around’ but it wasn’t to be and they ended up splitting in 1992 with a second, as yet unreleased, album in the can after all manner of record company aggro. They were a good band and Get In Line was a good LP, maybe a little short on originality here and there but well-played and ferociously confident – people always asked who they were whenever I played a track, or two and they became a mixtape fixture for a few years.
File under: Shame they didn’t stick around longer.
*the exciting type with fedoras and whips, not the boring, real, ones who spend weeks on their knees scrubbing fields with a toothbrush.
**about 5 songs apart, two of them cover versions.
^being Welsh of course I am intrinsically da bomb – it’s a little-known fact that funk actually originated in Swansea and was exported to the USA by early settlers. True story.
^^the lack of a G on the end of the word is a dead give away, we British don’t and shouldn’t drop our final letters.