Norway - Full Moon 101 - 12/26/04
No Music Requests
Last Train is the small pub only a few paces off Oslo's main street Karl Johan.
It's also the waterhole for many of Oslo's pop and rock musicians. Here's a little
stage for them to perform live, as well. Several bands and artists have visited this
stage during the years, some of them much too big to play in a pub with this limited
capacity. 50 people inside the door and it's crowdy. With 120 it's a real mess! A
few years ago Last Train celebrated its own 10 years anniversary with a CD album
called Peek-A-Böö! including 21 young and aspiring Norwegian bands. Now 20 years
has passed and it's time for a second anniversary record. Only 20 bands this time,
but it fits the number of years involved. A few bands are still young and aspiring
and are represented on both albums. Some of them ought to be well-known names for
regular visitors at our kafé, too: The Tables, Astroburger, Anal Babes - and a
reformed Sister Rain?. I don't think I've heard anything from The Time Lodgers
in the past 10 years. "Here We Go Again" is probably an old recording, a
whistle-worthy pop song with great 60s phasing reverberations that ought
to have been released years ago.
I thought Last Train mainly was a pop venue. During the last years it seems
the rockers have invaded the pub as well. Some of our finest rock groups
participates: Gluecifer, We, Big Bang, even Madrugada and Turboneger. The
album is a mixture of great cover versions, several originals and a couple
of live-performances recorded at the pub itself.
The Team Spirit starts the ball with "Ain't It fun?" by Rockets From The Tombs/Dead Boys.
Murky guitars high and low, not unlike the temporary reformed Rockets' version released
earlier this year. Only the vocals are younger and fresher. Let's stick to cover versions
by old American heroes for a while. Roky Erickson is represented twice: Madrugada's almost
nine minutes version of "Slip Inside This House" is tough and confident as hell. I've
seldom witnessed a more confident recording by a high-profiled Norwegian band. The
original from 13th Floor Elevator's second album sounds muddy and amateurish by
comparison. "Cold Night For Alligators" by We is altogether straighter despite
a theremin. Rock on! Some of us here at the Luna Kafé headquarters have been
somewhat sceptical about Euroboys' new americana/soft rock approach of late. (Soft rock revival?!
Then bring on true soft rockers Muffe and Gækki instead of the ultra-derivative Euroboys - editor's note.)
Big Star's "ST 100/6" is not a bad choice, though the electric piano sequences
and saxophone solo is not my kind of tea bag. I'll stick to the original less-than-a-minute
song in the long run.
In the pure pop category, beside The Time Lodgers, old friends like American Suitcase
and Astroburger keep the spirits high. Even King Midas sounds better than in a long
time, and yes, "Going Home" was recorded in 1998. A Sister Rain in fine form serves
a mellotron- and organ-drenched contemplating little something called "That's All"
Nice! Only The Tables disappoints. Well, "Chase The Rainbow" is a wonderful song,
but seems to be lifted straight off their last/latest album Nevermynd The Hillocks.
In the rock bag Gluecifer stands out. "You Keep Me Up All Night" is relatively laid-back
with the necessary dose of nonchalant attitude. The punk contributions by Anal Babes
and Amulet are also welcomed. The track that really stands out is "Metamorfose" by
Oslo Athletico. It's the only one with lyrics in Norwegian and seeking more original
expressions than the rest, a cover version of a classic, by punk pioneers Kjøtt going
experimental from 1981. Probably a homage to Kjøtt's front man Helge Gaarder who died
of cancer earlier this year (rip!). Herein lies the paradox or problem with
No Music Requests and Norwegian popular music for that matter. The majority of
the bands sings in English and strive to sound foreign like their models from
the UK or US.
Anyways, this compilation gives a nice overview and insight into the pop and rock
scene of (mainly) Oslo during the last 15 years or so. If you're looking for an
insight into what's going on at Last Train, head directly for track no. 20! Here
Max Cargo serves the mellow "Sideturns" only armed with his voice and an acoustic
guitar. The audience doesn't seem to pay too much attention. There's a lot of noise;
talk, clanging of glasses, even community singing ("Football's Coming Home" by the
Three Lions/Lightning Seeds!) after Max has finished. The inner life of Last Train
is also well documented in the accompanying thick booklet loaded with great mainly black
& white photos smelling of sweat and old beer spillage.
Copyright © 2004 JP