16 August 2009

Thurman - Lux

Thurman - Lux

Label: Righteous
Year of Release: 1995

This may turn out to be the least popular blog entry I've ever written on here.  To most critics, you see, Thurman were considered a dreadful band, so mind-bogglingly awful that even their plagiarism was unsubtle.  Their lead singer's hair was mocked in Select magazine (and to be fair, it did look rather like a Royal Guardsman's Busby at one point) the album was derided in the weekly press, and the fact that nobody bought it and it regularly appears in second hand store bargain bins today should surely be no surprise.  It was cursed.

Thurman allegedly bought much of this upon themselves.  Rumours circulated throughout the mid-nineties that they had originally been a heavy metal band who had been asked to change their style to Britpop to get signed.  Wikipedia is still quoting this as fact today.  I feel somewhat ambivalent about this story.  Interfering A&R executives do indeed tamper with the sound of bands regularly in order to get chart action out of them, but a leap from heavy metal to Britpop sounds rather like asking a techno artist to change tack to recording soul ballads.  Why not simply sign one of the several thousands acts out there playing the right genre already?  It may of course be that Thurman did indeed change tack when Britpop was brewing out of their own choices, but they'd be no less guilty of doing that than certain members of Menswear if other popular rumours are to be believed, and the latter didn't exactly have negative press to start with.

Despite this, it's impossible to ignore the fact that "Lux" does sound like a very cheeky, chancey little album, and it's actually that aspect of it which makes me grin from ear to ear at times.  Numerous tracks are so derivative that it's a wonder the band didn't get their arses kicked by a team of lawyers, and in fact I'm sure they would have done had the album sold in any reasonable quantities.  "Loaded" is "Children of the Revolution" all over again, right down to the vocals.  The opening riff to "Cheap Holiday" is as close to "All The Young Dudes" as you can possibly get without directly cribbing every single detail.  There are numerous other naggingly familiar sounding riffs and melody lines throughout the album that show a band determined to pilfer their way through the classic rock catalogue, stopping at nothing.  However, as Elastica were doing much the same thing at the same time to widespread praise for their supposed post-modern daring, why were Thurman rapped around the knuckles by the critics for having keen ears for somebody else's tune?

There have been some rabid online defenses of this record since, but the truth frequently lies between two stools, and in my humble opinion, "Lux" is actually quite a good album - neither a lost classic nor a complete dud, just an enjoyable listen.  There's a gleeful cheek to the whole thing which makes it sound very much of its time even though its clearly in thrall to the past, and rather like the neo-psychedelic bands which littered the eighties, Thurman appeared to be taking elements of mod and glam into their work and parodying them affectionately rather than tip-toeing gently around them.  "Oh... what a luv-er-ly day/ To drink some English Tea" they proclaim during the rather Move-ish track of the same name, banging most of the period details firmly on the head.  Other tracks such as "Famous" chime along in the manner of so many mid-sixties pop 45s, feeling breezy and effortless.

Part of me wants to believe that this album is indeed the work of metallers pissing around and parodying a movement - if so, that makes tracks like "English Tea" pieces of Spinal Tap-esque genius.  Whatever the truth, it's not a bad record, and is probably actually the most typical record of its era that's ever been made.  In the year 2050 when they've finally invented a computer which can produce an album in any style you care to name, and you ask to hear the mighty Hal's version of mid-nineties Britpop, this will be what the great machine spits out, and not "Parklife" like you thought.  Relax with it, and have fun - it's only an album nobody bought.

1. She's a Man
2. Loaded
3. Cheap Holiday
4. Strung Out
5. It Would Be
6. English Tea
7. Famous
8. Now I'm a Man
9. Clowns
10. Lewis Brightworth
11. Talk to Myself
12. Automatic Thinker
13. Flavour Explosion


Anonymous said...

I love this album...they made some earlier singles which had a Kinksy sound which I liked as well.

Anonymous said...

the best of bits of bitpop aka britpop were the songs and bands that sounded like somebody else, which is to say, most of them..

This is a fine fine example!

Thanks for sharing it

Big Ern xxx

Melbourne Australia

Anonymous said...

Nice post. They were indeed a metal band called To Die For...released a CD in the US on Morgan Creek Records. Amazing how they were abloe to write/perform such different styles really.

David said...

ould you please please please upload it again somewhere? i've been looking for it for ages and all I get is Uma Thurman pages.


23 Daves said...

The file is definitely still available through Megaupload at the above link - I just checked. Hope that helps.

David said...

Hey, thank you so much! I got it now.

I've wanted to listen to "She's a man" for so long.

thanks again

D legaria
Mexico city

Anonymous said...

Just found this review!

I bought this when it came out off the back of Famous and English Tea and is still one of my favourite albums.
I met them a few times back in the day and you would never have guessed that they were metallers!
A great bunch of guys and went on to form Four Storeys whose album is very Blood on the Tracks-check it out!

Graffitika said...

This album IS great. Derivative? Yes but to all the right bands. And not the plagiarists you claim they are. If you wanted to crystalize the STEREOTYPICAL Britpop sound it would have to be Parklife, Definitely Maybe or this!

Kon Wajiro said...

I too find this a brilliant album and often listen to it. Just this morning I found mzself singing under my breath "she said, I'll see you much later, you're a first-class second-rater..." tried to place it, then realised it was a line off LUX. Thurman... much-loved band from my home town of Oxford.

Mr. Suave said...

Hey hey, I agree with most here that this is a pretty delicious album. Who cares if they were a metal band, they found their sound here and I like it. In fact, I'm putting them in my next modcast featuring a whole slew of Britpopsters. cheers and keep up the good work with the blog.

Mint Custard said...

Great review, I agree with every word. For me this album is like listening to the Rutles 'All You Need is Cash' but Britpop rather than Beatles-flavoured. If its plagiarism, it's plagiarism well done. If its parody then it's genius.

paneska said...

I just discover this album the last year and I also recognized that it sounds good. But I really fell in love with "Now I'm a Man".

There isn't so much information about the band, not even some lyrics. If someone have the whole lyrics of Now I'm a Man, please, share it!

Mike said...

Love "English Tea" -- great track! Heard it on satellite radio last September and can't get it out of my head.

Anonymous said...

link no longer works