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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 79 - 03/18/03

The Tables
Nevermynd The Hillocks
(treble without a cause)

Perfect Pop Records

The Tables is my oldest favourite Norwegian pop orchestra. They started way back in the 80s, inspired by the ultimate English cult pop-heroes at that time, the Television Personalities, and also by British pop, pop-sike and psychedelia of the 60s. Your average Tables' song has a strolling pace (if ya know what I mean), Farfisa organ and neat guitars in front and a hummable/whistleable tune that you don't get fed up with the third time you hear it. The Tables started the Perfect Pop label and gathered a handful of other and younger pop groups. By now Perfect Pop has released almost 50 albums, singles and EPs, check out the Luna archives. The records have sold next to nothing here in Norway until the new Jessica Fletchers' album entered the national charts last moonth. Supporters and buyers of perfect pop are thinly spread throughout the globe, I guess.

Anyways, one of the 12 songs off this third and maybe last Tables album is a cover version. "The Girl In The Café" is taken from a compilation of home recordings by July, a great little English psychedelic pop band of the late 60s in the early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett vein that never made it beyond underground status. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Newman was later the in-house producer of Richard Branson's Virgin Records in the early idealistic days (a long time ago...). His first solo album was called Fine Old Tom. 'Fine Old Tables' might've been an alternative title that describes the music of the new Tables album suitably. But of course, the album's actual title, both outside and inside the brackets, are far more cool. Several songs sound like vintage Tables, even more so than its predecessor, Holiday At Wobbledef Grunch. Also the songs are actually vintage already. The Tables have been through several personnel changes since the recordings started two and a half years ago. The group finally disbanded some moons back. The recordings caused quite some toil and sweat, maybe blood and tears, too, for all I know. Though listening to the album it sounds as happy-go-lucky as any Tables' recording.

The music of the Tables are often refered to as rattling (is that the word?) and charming by Norwegian critics. I don't know, the charm is there all right, but to me the playing sounds as steady as can be. The instruments are treated far more skilfully than on any Television Personalities' recording (well, they never were the steadiest band on this planet, to say the least). But the spirit of the best of the TVPs and the late 60s is still swirling around. I hear distant reverberations of some early Pink Floyd song soon after Syd Barrett had left the band in the wonderful melancholic "All The Roads To Happiness". On the other hand the hilarious "Professor Branestawm's Pancake-Making Machine" (the title says it all!) and "The Major And The Frog" to some extent deal with stuff up the same street as songs by the Idle Race, the Dukes Of Stratosphear's "You're a Good Man, Albert Brown (Curse You Red Barrel)" and "Corporal Clegg" by the old Pink Floyd. "Plring" and "Living Next Door To Alice In Wonderland" would've fit nicely along with the best songs of the Tables' legendary (to some of us, at least) debut album Shady Whims & Obstacles from 1990. "(I Divorced A) Monster From Outer Space" is a funny direct continuation of the marriage with the monster on that album, 13 years on: 'She (the monster that is) took some money for a ticket to Hollywood, And was cast in a movie by a guy called Ed Wood.' "Rodney & John" is probably an even older song, a re-recording of a track previously only available on a cassette-release [with the brilliant title From Trash To Gloss - editor's note] in the late 80s. It tells the story of two squatters who a thrown out. Eventually they find a gruesome solution to all their problems and live happily ever after...

"Butterfly" is different from everything else by the band, slightly experimental. Are the Tables going jazz-pop with guitars (and psynths?) wandering off in several directions??? "The Mirror In Room 22" is the rough psychedelic instrumental of the album with sitars and all. The aforementioned "The Girl In The Café" has more edge and more aggressive guitars than any other song by the band I can remember, whereas "Plring" even includes a 50s flavoured guitar solo. Finally "Chase The Rainbow" picks up the threads from the title track of Holiday At Wobbledef Grunch; time for afterthought. Throughout the album is spiced with short highlights from the 60s and off the Tables' back-catalogue. Catch them if you can!

Nevermynd... do break new ground here and there. Still, formulas from earlier releases are easily discernible. A lot of a good thing can still be wonderful! The Tables are history. We say thank you for the music, but remember that the band also split soon after Shady Whims... had been released. They returned five years later. So, is this really the end...?

Copyright © 2003 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Tables articles/reviews: Holiday At Wobbledef Grunch, Play Idle Race, See Emily Play, Wonderland: The Greatest Adventures 1988-2003.

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