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by Ian Mann

April 19, 2006


There is no flab on Telescopes songs. They are short, loud, tuneful pieces of intent.

The Midlands based five piece ‘The Telescopes’ are one of the forgotten treasures of the British Indie scene of the late 80s and early 90s. This expanded re-release of their debut album “Taste” is a timely reminder of their talents and relevance.

The twelve tracks of the original album are augmented by the inclusion of a four track live bootleg “Trademark of Quality” reprising three of the original album tracks plus the hitherto unheard “Sadness Pale”.

Originally released in 1989 “Taste” opens with the ethereal “And Let Me Drift Away” featuring acoustic guitar, violin and French horn. It is the calm before the storm to come. The album then explodes into “I Fall, She Screams” and from then on the sonic assault never lets up.

Unlike many other British Indie bands of the time The Telescopes don’t go in for jingly-jangly guitars and fey vocals. Instead they make a glorious collision of noise and melody reminiscent of a UK Husker Du - the disaffected sound of Middle England as opposed to Middle America.

Like the Huskers there is no flab on The Telescopes’ songs. They are short, loud, tuneful pieces of intent. Only “Suicide” with its shrieking, freak-out, feedback drenched ending breaks the mould.

Guitar overload is the name of the game. The triple axe attack of Joanna Doran, David Fitzgerald and Stephen Lawrie is featured prominently in the mix. Founder, songwriter and vocalist Lawrie sings powerfully throughout, pushing himself to the edge. But even he is kept low in the mix behind the guitars as are Robert Brooks (bass) and the pummelling drums of Dominic Dillon.

Standout tracks include “The Perfect Needle” (featuring guest violinist Julian Overton) which was a hit single back in the heady days of 1989, and “Suffercate” with its searing melody.

The re-packaged album comes with excellent archive photographs together with liner notes by producer Joe Foster and a contemporary interview with Steven Lawrie. No lyrics though, unfortunately.

Nevertheless this is another excellent re-release from Rev-Ola. It takes a couple of takes to get beyond the guitar violence and the sometimes overwrought vocals but once you discover the melodies of the Telescopes’ songs “Taste” proves to be a very rewarding listen.

Old fans will love this well produced package and The Telescopes may even find some new converts along the way. I’m certainly one!

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