January 2002 – EP reviews – The Scaramanga Six’s ‘The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six’ (“full walking-heart-attack mode”)

27 Jan

The Scaramanga Six: 'The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six'

The Scaramanga Six: ‘The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six’

“Horsepower – horseplay!” As The Scaramanga Six plunge down into Pressure Cage with a ferocious blurt of punched-out amplifiers, they show they’ve evolved into a much more direct band than the psychedelic gangland chroniclers they’ve been before. Now less haunted by intimations – and more stirred by actual events – their Birthday Party/Six By Seven dirty-rock assault is more bloodshot eyes than shifty gazes.

Pressure Cage, in particular, is a blazing reaction to all manner of stress – fantastically blunt and brutal. In a mottled fury, Paul Morricone seethes against ram-raiders, bad business deals and the nine-to-five in full walking-heart-attack mode, as the guitars vent gallons of spleen in a whirl of booze-induced bludgeoning. “I love being a suit-and-tie, / my face is red and I’m gonna die. / Don’t force me or you’ll tip the scales – / I’m just a workhorse in your pressure cage.”


 
The frightening violence of small men oozes across this EP: Scaramanga territory, for sure. While Pressure Cage’s narrator restricts his own petty tyrannies to domestic violence and to intimidating waitresses, the protagonist of Big in a Small Town haunts the scenes of past humilations and (to a backing clang of pulsating guitars and death-metal screeches) ferments savage bile as fuel. “This was a schoolyard: / the boys, they used to play hard. / I swore revenge at the things they would do – / I’d make them eat the shit from my shoes!”. He may or may not be the hard-nut and big-shot he claims to be (“round these parts, know my voice – / know my roles, know my Royce!”) but he’s obviously bonded himself to his hometown with vicious sentiment – “ring me up and I’ll show you round…/ This is the place I was born – / I swore I would take it, I swore I’d do more,” – and with a kind of predatory benevolence (“they are good people, / I know they’re grateful.”)


 
But Scaramanga songs are ultimately less about power than they are about damage. Steve Morricone delivers The Stupidest Man in the World in hollow, flinty, brittle tones (like Nick Cave with a punctured lung) while drums, guitars and whining Moog fold up melodramatically around him like a collapsing shack. “His path is paved with such bitter regrets / as he ponders on the sweet lips, all the work he did neglect… / You kids, with your hearts so young and so free, / take some advice from this broken man you see.”


 
The stunning Singer of Songs staggers from the horror of burnout and loss, and of seeing your own swollen hands break what’s precious. “I don’t know my strength – did I brush you away / when all I wanted to was keep you in place?” laments Paul over seasick organ. Still there’s that helpless clutching after vindication, after control (“I’m the singer, the singer of songs / I can’t help but speak the truth and do no wrong,”) even though the song ends in a roar of sirens, churning guitars and a confessional howl of “I can’t help myself… I mean it…”


 
And as for the hope of breaking old habits… well, resignation drenches the final song alongside the weary old cinema organ. “Is there a chapter where the man loses heart?” Paul ponders aloud. “Is this the beginning of a new avenue? / Will your replacement just repeat after you?” Having broken the scabs on the psychic wounds of the dark Yorkshire streets their songs inhabit, The Scaramanga Six don’t bring any balm. What they do bring, though, is a devastating observation of the cycles of violence and desperation that breed there. This band gets ever more powerful, ever more essential.


 
The Scaramanga Six: ‘The Continuing Saga of The Scaramanga Six’
Wrath Records, WRATHCD02 (Barcode)
CD-only EP
Released:
January 2002
Get it from: (2020 update) buy CD from The Scaramanga Six Shop; download from Google Play; stream via Deezer, Apple Music or Spotify
The Scaramanga Six online:
Homepage Facebook Twitter MySpace Soundcloud Bandcamp Last FM Apple Music YouTube Vimeo Deezer Google Play Spotify Amazon Music
 

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