Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Search Of .. Kampuchea

Here's another indispensable release we'd like to see on CD.

Released in 1979 to raise money for the victims of war-torn Cambodia, Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea compiled the highlights of benefit concerts held at Hammersmith Odeon in London, England. Those who’ve tripped on this double album before, are well aware of the twist this collection holds, wherein the big names in the lineup should be skipped and shunned, whilst going straight to the other sidelighted, yet more noteworthy artists, such as a brutal three-song salvo from The Pretenders. At the height of their popularity, the fearsome force of James Honeyman-Scott’s chorus-drenched riffs, the booming oomph of bassist Pete Farndon, Martin Chambers’ rocket-propulsion pounding and of course, the tough, gruff snarl of Chrissie Hynde, threatened to steal the thunder away from the pomp and glamour of the likes of Queen and even The Who. Their triple-whammy of The Wait, Precious and Tattooed Love Boys are classic and tight, to say the least.

Though the album is dominated by four lackadaisical (by Who standards) tracks by The Who (must be because of drummer Kenney Jones), and an inspired working of “Now I’m Here” by Queen, Kampuchea’s true essence is in the smaller name acts. You can forget all about the Wings cuts. Been there, heard that.

There are snatches of brilliance to be heard in “Monkey Man” by The Specials, a dark, foreboding “Armagideon Time” by The Clash, with Mikey Dread on organ. Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ live take of The Impostor, as well as Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.” Lamentably, the Kampuchea video featured Dury doing “Sweet Gene Vincent,” backed by The Clash’s Mick Jones on guitar, but not included on the album, with Ian admonishing him with “.. you know the changes, right Michael?” Another noteworthy track is Rockpile’s take of “Little Sister,” with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant on vocals. Truly sweet.

Albums like these demand attention, production works down to the finest, minute detail, digital remastering and of course a darn release date! And while you’re at it, the video deserves a similar work-up as well. Now!


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