"This is probably the best known Virgin Prunes album. It contains two of their most popular singles, Baby turns Blue and Pagan Love Song, both of which are Goth Club favorites even 20 some years after their release. Their sound is very ecclectic. In fact, there isn't one song that sounds like another on this album. You get some dissonant Post-Punk (what would be considered Deathrock by American standards), some spooky Bauhaus-ish Goth, some catchy Pop, and some Industrial flavored Noise-Art. With this in mind, it's only fitting that the Mute label (Home to Nick Cave, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Laibach) would go and reissue the entire catalog of one of the finest art-punk bands ever."
Top 10 of the 80s.
ChrisWN | Santa Cruz, CA | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, this is one of my 10 favorite albums of the 1980s. The album cover & quality of the pressing compelled me to give this a listen one day (back in the days when indie/import shops in the US had record players you could actually listen to the latest releases with). The really danceable (and what would become their best known tracks) "Baby Turns Blue" & "Caucasian Walk" made me buy it, however, I ended up usually listening to the whole thing from beginning to end & the other (more experimental) tracks really grew on me. Something about the artwork & packaging & the fact that it always threw people off (What the hell is that?!) made this a perennial favorite.
Listening to it now, the music isn't really all that different from what you would expect from an early 80s post punk/pre synthpop "UK" alt band (most of the band hails from Ireland, but like their friends U2, really took off because of the UK punk/new wave scene....well, ok, they didn't really take off like U2, but they did make their mark). In L.A. speak, the Virgin Punes could be described as The Lords of The New Church meets The Fall, or Bauhaus with The Doors' personality and Siouxsie & The Banshees' beat. This is the album that really propelled them into alternative band non-stardom. Except for their final album (Moon...), their other releases were much more experimental and covered a much wider range of style (and quality). I thought I read somewhere that Colin Newman of Wire produced one side of the LP & Dave Ball of Soft Cell & The Grid produced the other, but the liner notes give all the credit to Colin. Regardless, the album is very much a cohesive whole. The bass predominates even the slow tracks. Vocals are shared by Gavin Friday (who has gone onto a success career as a vocalist & writer for soundtracks like "The Boxer" "In The Name of The Father" & "In America") & Dave-Id. Lyrics are sometimes undecipherable because of (shrieking/distorte) vocalization, so it is nice that they are included on this release (for the first time?). This CD adds a few tracks, which were recorded at the same time & fit in quite well, as a bonus.
I'm not sure how this release compares to the orignial & rare New Rose and Mute issues from around 1989. I saw a copy once, but passed on it because it was $2 more than the other used CD's at the store (& thought it might go by unnoticed & eventually get reduced). Two days later I decided to buy it anyway, but when I went back, it was gone. For over 10 years now I have been kicking myself over not buying it, because in all my used music buying sprees (of which there have been many), I had never seen another copy (except on Ebay, and then for $100+).
As for the CD, it sounds very good, though it is mastered very loud. I'm not sure if it's my speakers, but on at least one of the tracks (Walls of Jericho?) I thought I noticed distortion in the treble, perhaps from the loudness, which I don't recall being on my LP. BTW, Colin Newman has remixed Baby Turns Blue, which at the moment only looks to be on the UK iTunes site & not the US one (grrr!). For more on The Virgin Prunes, I'd definitely recommend the official fan website, along with the one for Gavin Friday."
A New Form of Beauty
Todd Wallop | Sherman Oaks, CA United States | 10/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At long last this album gets re-issued and re-mastered on CD. Has any band of this stature missed having its back catalog plundered endlessly except for the Virgin Prunes? But what must not have been very easy on them financially has worked wonders for their artistic legacy. How's that? It's because by virtue of it having been so rare during the past nearly twenty years, the beautiful evil of the Virgins Prunes has not been diminished by familiarity like a great many of the bands from this era have been. This is an unbelievably powerful listening experience to have in 2004. A real revelation. Insane. Disturbing, yet always beautiful (in a very broad definition of the word, granted!). The best ballpark comparison to the Prunes sound and "feel" would have to be Bauhaus, although that's just getting you into the ballpark, so don't make too much of it: the Prunes exist in their very own, very singular continuum. Fans of early PiL, Throbbing Gristle, Birthday Party, etc, should go nuts over this. Produced by Wire's Colin Newman. It's tightly controlled chaos here and it really works for it. Rubbery, almost metronomic bass. Eerie percussion effects. Three wailing weirdo singers including a mentally handicapped young man. Bone crunching guitar riffs (The guitar player is the older brother of U2's Edge, btw) and trippy DARK subject matter. As dark and as apocalyptic as any band has ever been. A lush, dark, beautifully designed nightmare. A masterpiece of sorts."
Easily their best...
J. Curfman | Atlanta, GA | 11/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was so happy to see all of the V.P. albums being released at the same time that I was willing to give them all a 5 star, but the truth is this is their best album by far. If you are not familiar with this group but want to give them a shot buy this instead of the others. That way you will only be moderately disappointed from here!"