Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Lost in the Former West
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
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Final release & career peak from Fatima Mansions....
Jason Parkes | Worcester, UK | 09/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cathal Coughlan remains sadly a cult concern, when he really should be accorded the same kind of devotion as songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Scott Walker & Warren Zevon. His recent solo work (The Sky is Awful Blue, Black River Falls) has been wonderful, as too his earlier work in the 80s with Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas, Stereolab, SFA) in Microdisney (such songs as Singer's Hampstead Home, Mrs Simpson & Town to Town)But it's Fatima Mansions that remain the most potent- blending the ironic pop of Microdisney with a rock template. FM had released some potent singles and albums- Blues for Ceausescu, Viva Dead Ponies, Valhalla Avenue- but here on Lost in the Former West came the absolute career peak- and thus the obligatory death knell for FM! LITFW is almost worth owning for the cover alone- which has Cathal Coughlan & fellow Mansion Hugh Bunker restage a famous photo of Liberace & his 'chaueffer'. Strangely CC had recently given up drinking and took up meditation- which is at odds with the post-Cold War bile he produced here. It's important to note that two of the tracks here stem from 1992's Valhalla Avenue: Something Bad & Go Home Bible Mike!- which means that the sublime folk song Sunken Cities is passed over. They've also played with the sequence, which is always irritating. The album opens with the bleak Belong Nowhere, which sets out the themes of the album clearly: the vacuous emptiness following the end of the Cold War, particularly looking at the former Yugoslavia & the joys of capitalism and genocide. There's also the beginnings of anti-globalism here (probably then called 'the new world order')- typified by songs like Your World Customer & the lines in Belong Nowhere "No right to more than birth or death, for the drivelling drones of the former west/Their credo dead like Breznhev's bones...You'll heal so much faster, if your homeland is your master...No deathcamps here I tell you, just grey convienience hell/Ten civil wars unended,'neath billboard signs which yell "You need someone pretty, someone English and shifty"'- Coughlan then gives us some apocalyptic lyrics worthy of Beckett "Let the dirt cover all!/From the veil to the shawl, from the flirt to the brawl/we belong nowhere". This album sounds more relevant against the backdrop of displaced peoples of Europe who the UK media rail against in a MeinKampf-fashion. It contrasts the emptiness of the former west, basking in consumerism against atrocities and the backdrop of the former Yugoslavia. This is several steps on from Neil Young's Rockin'in the Free World and beyond The Fall's Zagreb, up there with Cohen's bleak-black comedy of The Future (1993). Coughlan, who provoked a riot when supporting U2 in Rome (a football shirt/Papal comment), continues his railing against the Vatican. Popemobile to Paraguay sounds like Aerosmith meets Faith No More, Coughlan noting the Pope's policy on victims of mass-rape in Bosnia, which had declared that they should not abort but have the children of ethnic cleansing & genocide as "a gesture of conciliation". Hence "the king of the Papists is a friend to the rapists and the upside-down crucifixion squad"...the problems of hawkish US foreign policy, now no chimera to fight is noted also "It's been a while since you said 'Heil', you CIA-bred necrophile/No Russkies left to rail at, not for now...They'll murder their neighbours for the good of their souls". Let's note mass-murderers Bin Ladan and Hussein stem from CIA-support and let's note the thousands who died in the Srebrenica massacre, which has been related to the same dubious foreign policy. So subject matter more akin to Dead Kennedys, Disposable Heroes, RATM, Fugazi...The two singles, a cover of Scott Walker's Nite Flights and The Loyaliser are suitably wonderful- the latter noting ruefully "You get older, you get scared, but you get no wiser". Yes, that kind of album!- which the electric chairs, Andy&Fergie pic, fur etc innersleeve portrait might suggest (Coughlan stems from that classic Irish strain of satire, typified by Jonathan Swift).Walk Yr Way is a gorgeous Walkeresque ballad, which A Walk in the Woods is sometimes is in its schizophrenic form- slipping between heavy guitar assault & sublime balladry. The production from Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Ralph Jezzard (EMF) etc makes complete sense- it's knowing rock meets knowing pop...A bleak estimation of the 1990s, especially in Europe once the bonhomie of the Berlin Wall falling etc went (perhaps in the Maastricht redefintion of nationality- the most extreme redefinition of nationality being that in post-Tito Yugoslavia)- there is a definite sense of postmodern, pre-millennium tension "I know Khomeni, John Wilkes Booth, and the Jackson Five" declares CC on Bruncelling's Song, prior to "Nothing, nothing, nothing is true" equal in negativity to Neil Young's intonation of 'no' on 1973's Last Dance...The album closes with the instrumental title track (once the interlude of the album) after the Guns'N'Roses sounding conclusion of Humiliate Me!, a world where CC notes "I try to stand and confess to I don't know who/& the criminal insane look so gentle when they're being entertained:gunsmiths and prison warders, a gallery of brain disorders/Porn-stars handcuffed to their fathers...and I'll come sex with you if you pay...Lovely! Humiliate Me!". Lost in the Former West remains a classic rock album and the kind of satirical release that Eminem or Marilyn Manson would be incapable of. A classic album, despite this slightly altered version- though it would be nice to see a decent reissue of Fatima Mansions and Microdisney's back-catalogue. Cathal Coughlan deserves to be more than just another cult concern- especially for this,one of the strongest albums of the 1990s."