I don’t give a fuck about the hell’s
Gate, ain’t punkin’ the crowd and I’m still standing up straight.
So, we pull these jobs to make a little money;
No one gets hurt if they don’t act funny.
Here’s one I freakin’ loved, Fun Lovin’ Criminals Come Find Yourself – was it really from 1996? Christ, that’s 19 years ago! predominantly remembered for the catchy Tarantinotasticism of ‘Scooby Snacks’ they were so much more than that, says me.
I got in early here, I got hold of a copy of The Grave & The Constant on CD before Come Find Yourself came out and fell for it instantly. There was just something about the way the band just rolled their music, was it rock, was it hip-hop? it surfed somewhere in between and I’ve always really liked stuff that doesn’t fit. There was a real, cool insouciance about ‘The Grave & The Constant’ a beautifully paced, languid glide of a track and when Huey rapped,
I used to wear dress blues, I used to get my cues from the dudes in D.C. with the wing tip shoes.
My boss said it was Paris or Prison and the judge said: “son you better Make a decision.”
I chose the former because I heard it was warmer.
… I was sold. Add in the slinky John Gotti referencing ‘The King Of New York’ and the ‘Smoke on The Water’ riff-theft on ‘Bombing The L’ and I was totally, totally sold. Fun Lovin’ Criminals had that perfect measure of NYC cool that most of us poor schleps unfortunate to live elsewhere have managed to imbibe along with our mother’s milk via De Niro, Mean Streets, Goodfellas and a gazillion other cultural macros for cool. Patriot that I am, I have to admit it is a touch cooler than Caernarfon. I also loved the way they called their umbrella company DiFontaine Carting & Asbestos Removal Ltd – whether you buy the band’s schtick it was ever a real going garbage concern, or not.
But I digress, as always, Come Find Yourself is quite a box of tricks. You’ll remember ‘Scooby Snacks’ of course, if not you really should do, it’s the bouncy one:
You have to love something that taps into the zeitgeist as well as this track did with all its Tarantino samples, wrapped around the tale of a goofy, yet rather damn cool bank job where no one did act funny AND a great tune. There’s loads here and genuinely, what’s not to like? On a similar tip you have ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ which starts the album up like a country cousin hoedown take on House Of Pain and the super slick, ‘The King Of New York’.
Overall though I think the true mood of the album is quite down, which surprised me a bit this time around. These guys may be the life and soul of the party, but I’d be willing to bet they spent a lot of their time sitting alone, staring into the candle flame of doubt. Skip the record on to ‘I Can’t Get With That’, or sad closer ‘Methadonia’ and its a whole different ball game. The latter with its melancholy elegiac trumpet edges the whole affair towards soul jazz and the former is a sad state of the nation address with a really soulful searing blues guitar solo halfway through. I hated it at first but their cover ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ works for me too, they sound like the long-lamented Urge Overkill on this one, it would have been a perfect choice on a Tarantino soundtrack for a suitably violent scene.
The rockier bits of Come Find Yourself are the angry ‘Passive/Aggressive’, the cross in a Cypress Hill type way ‘Bear Hug’ and ‘Bombin’ The L’, which features a neat Lynyrd Skynyrd sample and a rather familiar sounding riff. I’ll let Huey tell the story:
As I may have hinted I really like this LP and the UK seem to have been the bunch who fell for the band the hardest, Huey resides in Somerset these days, but a lot of the US reviews of Come Find Yourself were very sniffy, mostly unfavourably comparing them to the Beastie Boys. I get that and I also get that no-one comes close to the Beasties at their most inspired, but Fun Lovin’ Criminals were aiming for a more chilled, slicker, smoother sound – hell they made a great lounge-style LP later on* and the Beasties, latterly weren’t always hitting their PB’s. There was definitely room for both in my world and besides I’m a sucker for that NYCool.
See I got more gumbas than Bobby De Niro
And if I was you I’d act like Nixon and Spiro
So drink your rock and smoke your pot and chill where it’s shady
I got more endurance than in-A-Gadda-Da-Vida baby
Of course me being me, that’s not the end of the story for FLC here, I also picked up a pair of promo 12″s, King Of New York and The Grave And The Constant. The latter was remixed by Steve Lironi when they spent time partying and hanging out with Black Grape and the former by Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto.
Steve Lironi does a really good, sympathetic job on The Grave And The Constant, bringing the beats more to the fore and adding funkier bass and organ sounds without actually losing the tune. it makes it a good, if not essential, addition – although I prefer the original track.
Jack Dangers on the other hand in King Of New York almost totally deconstructs the tune, adding a heavier, muddier more concussive beat and taking away all the bits of the tune I loved. So okay, academically interesting, but tuneilistically much less so. However, every silver cloud etc. as Fun Lovin’ Criminals decided to replicate the nude cover of Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland with its 19 unflatteringly lit naked chicks replaced by 22 naked ladies** with copies of FLC records to cover their modesty. In another departure the band named and thanked them all on the sleeve, dedicating the record to ‘the women of the world as you are’; oh and they lit them properly. Now the full art isn’t on the promo 12″ I have but luckily for all you nudity hounds out there, I bought the red vinyl 7″ version with the art on it in full. I think Jimi would have approved^.
PS – I’ve also got a VHS video somewhere of the band being interviewed about the LP before it came out. Somewhere …
PPS: This is what I was contending with when I photographed this:
*Their smooooth version of ‘Crazy Train’ was excellent:
**I guess that’s inflation for you.
^reportedly he was very embarrassed by the original cover.