Fresh Gasoline

It takes pretty large cojones to cover "Here Come The Warm Jets." It's like trying to "cover" a sunset: The original is beautiful and perfect because a number of wildly variable influences converged flawlessly on the planet at a very specific time and place to create a masterwork of sensory overload that shouldn't be minimalized by imitation. Austin's Sixteen Deluxe got by on enthusiasm and volume, but pretty much nobody else has even made a reasonable attempt at it (the song that is, not the sunset). So, along comes Phono Comb, featuring three members of Canadian instro-surfers Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet as well as a member of Fifth Column. They're hip. They're instrumental. They're kinda twangy in a spaghetti-surfy kinda way. Man, wouldn't it be a hoot and a hollerin' hootenanny if they covered "Warm Jets" in their cute little style? Well, no. Because not only is the genre in which they're playing anachronistic beyond the point of nostalgia, but the sheer lifelessness that Phono Comb injects into Eno's masterpiece (as well as the rest of the album) is simply depressing. I mean, there's good instrumental rock and then there's contemporary instrumental rock. In the latter category, the number of emotional musicians is staggeringly low, and to be frank, if you're not gonna have vocals, you'd better have some powerfully enthusiastic grooves kickin' around to make your rock 'n' roll work. Phono Comb does not (unlike the band that spawned it) and, as a result, Fresh Gasoline is a dry, dull album that could only be recommended as a warning for all those fledgling surf-rockers out there. [Quarterstick, POB 25342, Chicago IL 60625]

- Jason Ferguson

A rebuttal from the Shadowy Webmaster:

Notice that there's two kinds of instrumental rock: good and contemporary. In other words, any contemporary instrumental rock is bad. If you dislike contemporary instrumental rock this much, what exactly is the point of reviewing a record in that genre in the first place?

In the first part of the review, "Here Comes The Warm Jets" is described like a sacred relic, completely untouchable. He then notes that Sixteen Deluxe "got by on enthusiasm and volume." Is is just me, or are you betting as well that Sixteen Deluxe "got by" because they weren't playing in a "genre" that is "anachronistic beyond the point of nostalgia?"

Of course, not every review has to be positive, but it sounds like this reviewer hated the album before even cracking the shrink wrap because of the genre of music it is. Phrases like "cute little style" are a bit of a giveaway. Seems to me like a poor way to write a review.

Oh, and Phono-Comb only had two former Shadowy Men, not three. Nice research.