16 February 2011

Reupload - Action Spectacular - I'm A Whore

snakebite city volume eight

Part of: Snakebite City Volume Eight
Label: Bluefire Records
Year of Release: 1998 


There were numerous independent music industry innovations on the go during the nineties which now seem to have been thrown under the bed in pop's great spare room. The "Volume" series of albums springs immediately to mind, offering a compilation album of obscure tracks, album tasters and remixes with a well-written CD booklet sized magazine. You'd think they'd be worth a fortune by now, but don't rush on to ebay, because it seems they're not.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to "Volume" in terms of presentation are the "Snakebite City" series of compilation albums, strictly no-frills minimal affairs which retailed at budget prices. Focussing largely on unsigned bands, each release still seemed to have an uncanny strike rate in predicting which bands would cause a press flurry (Bis featured on one of the earliest volumes). They never quite managed to showcase an act who went on to top ten success, but nonetheless the line-up on the albums does read like a who's who of the pub circuit at a certain time in UK musical history. The Crocketts are there, as are Drugstore, The Sweeney, Inter (weren't Inter everywhere at one point?), Posh, Tiny Too, and... erm... some ranty performance poet type called Vis the Spoon (who still regularly performs around London, in case you needed to be told).

As you might expect, there's some tremendous dross across the eleven volumes, but some sheer brilliance as well, and one of the finest pieces of work props up track three on Volume Eight - for Sheffield's Action Spectacular produce the mournful "I'm a Whore" at that moment for our pleasure. Essentially Spearmint's "Sweeping the Nation" in lyrical tone with added spittle and despair, the song is a ballad to the McJob. It starts with a screeching thrash, the lead singer screaming "I'm a whore!" then turns into a delicate ditty, outlining the tedium of a low-rung daily routine. Answering phones, washing dishes, faxes, photocopiers are given namechecks towards the end, whilst the lines "I'm a slag whose been had/ in ten years I'll be my Dad/ look at all the worthless things I do" appear within the first verse. It's so despairing it's actually very funny, but also perhaps depressingly familiar, and by the time they come to "Always dreamed I'd have a band/ but I'm working for The Man" you can only sing along in sympathy. The epic ending with spoken word rant recalls Pulp at their finest, and the track really does have "cult classic" stamped all over it. The trouble is, I've never even met anyone who has heard it, unless I shoved it on to a compilation CD for them first of course.

Unlike a good many of the bands who were given the Snakebite City treatment, Action Spectacular did go on to get signed - but by the time I heard them tweeting out of my radio alarm on XFM one morning in the year 2000, they were rather different. The comedy angst of "I'm a Whore" had been replaced by lo-fi electronica and contemplative acoustic work-outs. The NME never completely got behind them (there's a mixed review here) , the records didn't sell, and to the best of my knowledge "I'm A Whore" never even came out as a flip side, never mind being given the A-side treatment it surely deserved. Still, here it is for your delight below - and if anyone does have a copy of their "From Here On In It's A Riot" album, I for one would be interested.

Anyone curious about Snakebite City might be surprised to see there's still a website active too.

(This blog entry was originally written in June 2008.  I finally did manage to track down a copy of their album "From Here On In It's A Riot" very cheaply indeed, and I'm disappointed to report that it's mostly a rather middling affair which doesn't show the same amount of wit or flair as this track.  The original entry for "I'm A Whore" is also one of Left and to the Back's lowest pulling pages of all time - despite the use of the word "whore" in the main header, which would normally pull in all sorts of waifs and strays - and received no comments at all. This either means I'm completely on my own with this one, or for some reason I didn't do enough to convince people of its greatness.  One last chance, then... and I'll never mention it again).  


10 comments:

oliver said...

I found this blog looking for a Tiger song and happened to stumble across the "Best Of" sampler with "I'm a Whore" on it.

I must admit, I was ready to skip over it after hearing the first few seconds but I kept listening and I dread to think how many times I've played it now.

It's such a great song that I couldn't leave it comment-less again.

And I still don't think I've fully deciphered the last verse rant 100%

23 Daves said...

Thanks Oliver - it's just a relief to know that somebody besides me is fond of this.

I really should add a disclaimer to suggest that the first few seconds of the song is not representative of the whole...

chrism said...

I love this blog but you sem to have lost a lot of the stereo in your posts.

23 Daves said...

Hi Chris, do you mean that the sound is only coming out of one speaker or that the mp3s are mono? Just tested "I'm A Whore" again and it seems to be OK...

There will be mono records uploaded on here from time to time purely because that's how they were recorded. This isn't one of them, though. Are the settings on your PC OK?

fuzzynavel said...

"Quit your job and have some fun...
Listen to Stone Roses, in the sun..."

I'd heard this track on a Student radio station back in the day, but couldn't get hold of it to play it on my student station. Hit me with a PM if you're still interested in the album.

23 Daves said...

I did manage to track down the album in the end, but thanks for your offer.

The only reason I haven't uploaded it here is that the last time I checked, it seemed to be available for sale on iTunes.

Rich said...

I love this song, saw them live supporting Doves and Elbow at a weird TV recording gig thing years ago - because it was for telly, for some reason the bands went on in reverse order, so Action Spectacular effectively headlined

jeffplum said...

Hi, just found this, thank you for the upload. I was just listening to Action Spectacular's second album "Everything's going to be KO, really" (I've got both of their albums) and thought I'd Google them to see what's going on with their lead singer Jim Muir these days as he has/had another band Jim Muir Slideshow (here, in fact: http://uk.myspace.com/jimmuirslideshow)

hughbiedoo said...

Hi there,
I ended up in the Jim Muir Slideshow and spent a few good years gigging and recording with Paul and Jim, both ex AS members. We had a lot of laughs and released 3 EPs and an album all receiving great reviews and all furnished with Designers Republic sleeves and postcards.
I now play in a new band called Clear: soundcloud.com/clearmusic is where to find us.
Happy New Year's listening.
Hugh

Anonymous said...

Hey.
I used to share a house with their bass player (Phil, not Paul Flaherty) so went to many a AS gig. I still think with the right production and backing "Roxy Music" could have been a hit. And I liked "I'm A Whore" too, my mum less so.