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This review was first published on CLUAS in 2001
Other albums reviewed in 2001

National Prayer Breakfast

A review of the album 'This is my Happening and it XXXXX me up'

Here it is, NPB's short, sharp follow-up to last year's exuberant melange 'The Sociables Prefer Pop Music'. But a word of warning: this time around there are no electro-pop/ragtime crossovers to be found. Brassy Broadway flourishes are also thin on the ground. Advocates of 'The Sociables...' may need to look elsewhere for their promiscuous pop thrills, because 'This is my Happening...' is easily the band's most cohesive release to date. A good thing, then, that it has the basic decency to get out there and rock like an animal.

National Prayer Breakfast 'This is my Happening and it XXXXX me up'The opening instrumental, "Bang" aligns itself with the loonier workouts of 'The Sociables?'- though the introduction of a sleazy, Wire-ish buzz guitar announces that something tougher on its way. And it's right. Something tougher is coming. When it arrives - in the shape of album stand-out "1000 Helicopters" - it surprisingly reveals itself as, well, Rock. Full-on, unironic, low-down and dirty Rock. Think Primal Scream trying to channel the spirit of Funhouse. Only NPB don't rip off the Stooges - for three and a half minutes they become the Stooges. Check out the chorus, which is as dumb-ass as it is magnificent: "Send me to the front / it's what I what I want". There's a drum-heavy build-up, a squalling crescendo-and if that's not a wiggly guitar solo buried in the mix, it damn well ought to be.

The following tracks make their mark by taking classic-rock gestures and applying them to loose limbed alt-country. "Loaded" is an amiable lunk of a song, the kind of tune the Big Lebowski might mumble to himself in the shower, while "You You You" is a blues shouter with slacker smarts- each Dust Brother is given a turntable, but Jon Spencer gets to keep the microphone.

Side Two revisits the same territory, but travels the dust-tracks instead of the highway. "Black Chevy Part 1" is how The Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded if they'd been brought up in Tennessee. "Black Chevy Part 2" is how The Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded if they'd been brought up in Utah - a little more melodious, and a little more pissed off. "Rock for Cops" lives up to its title - a glorious 70s riff hustled out of the car and forced to walk the line and breathe into the bag. Rockabilly rant "Evil Things" makes an appropriate album closer, the musical equivalent of a squall of revving engines and dust-clouds.

Any reservations? Well, at times, the enterprise appears a little too smash-bang, a little too geronimo. In their previous forays into pop-punk, easy listening and whatever you're having yourself, the NPB perfected the art of the quick snatch and the snappy getaway. Here, however, where they have so plainly hit a lode, you wish they would loosen up and take their time. "1000 Helicopters", for instance, could easily go on for twice as long and no-one, barring the neighbours, would complain.

But such complaints seem footling in the face of such a grandstanding display. You could say that 'The Sociables?' was the sound of a band jimmying the locks on every room in the hotel corridor. With 'This is my Happening?' the NPB slam into a door which it turns out was open all along. And out they tumble, into centre stage. And that is where this album catches them - in the stadium glare, surrounded by pumped fists, flying vees and, already gathering at the barriers only feet away, the first waves of the roiling, seething crowds.

Shaneo

(bullet) Check out the NPB section of the Catchygogo Records website

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