The Bowling Green – ‘Self-Titled’ reviewed

❉ 20 years after their first release, The Bowling Green are back with a ‘lost’ album finally seeing the light of day, writes Stuart Douglas.

Micko Westmoreland is a tricky man to pin down, with fingers in so many pies that he almost manages to be a one man industry all of his own. First coming to the public attention in the role of Jack Fairy in Todd Haynes’ fantastic Velvet Goldmine movie, he was also the creative force behind electronic band The Bowling Green, releasing a debut album under that name (One Pound Note), followed up with Fabrications a couple of years later. Since then he’s formed part of charity supergroup The Spammed, alongside Rat Scabies of the Damned, Horace Panter of the Specials, and actor Kevin Eldon; launched Micko and the Mellotronics (whose debut album ½ Dove ½ Pigeon I called my favourite album of lockdown on this very website); and now, twenty years after their first release, he’s brought The Bowling Green back to life with that traditionally difficult, yet oddly eponymous, third album.

There’s a reason for the eponymous title – as Westmoreland explains “The project is very meta, self-referential, as it’s about airing work largely from another time. The name seemed to fit as describing that process.” The album is notionally a ‘lost’ one, almost all recorded in the period 2003-2005, but mixed years later, which Micko has, thankfully, now allowed to see the light of day.

Which is great news for music lovers. No matter when this was recorded, this is timeless electronic dance music. Kicking things off in great style, Disco Thong, the second single from the album, is more funk than disco, packed with big bass lines, and is followed by Déjà Vu, which mixes to excellent effect Portishead style trip-hoppery (complete with a Sour Times-alike musical sting) and an insistent, driving dance beat which actually put me in mind of Cabaret Voltaire.

Hey Baby takes us back to the realms of soulful funk, with a great electronic hook, fine use of vocal samples, smatterings of spiky guitar and even some horns in the background. If ever a track was designed to fill a dancefloor this is it.

Live Wild West is the first track with a substantial vocal element, but it’s no less a dance tune, albeit one with a reggae/ska tinge supplied by the late MC and vocalist Tubby T, and Wonky (the first single from the album) follows hard on its heels, with a huge looping bassline, twanging riff and even a bit of what sounds suspiciously like harmonica.

 

3D-Hassle lands with a definite 90s clubland beat, and Mastermind, in which Magnus Mastermind asks questions about ‘The Sex Pistols and Rock and Roll’, wraps things up with tongue firmly in cheek.


❉ The Bowling Green – ‘Self Titled’  is released 25 November 2022 through Landline records/Republic of Music on all good digital platforms. Pre-save here: https://lnk.to/BG-ST

 Stuart Douglas is an author, and editor and owner of the publisher Obverse Books. He has written four Sherlock Holmes novels and can be found on twitter at @stuartamdouglas

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