Chikinki - Lick Your Ticket
From June 1978 to this year's release of Country on the Click and no matter the quality of songs like Container Drivers, Free Range, Lay Of The Land and Slags, Slates, Etc., one era of The Fall stands high above all others - the two drummer line up of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns that lasted from Autumn '81 and Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul to Spring '85 before the recording of This Nation's Saving Grace and included Hex Enduction Hour, when sixty minutes of Mark E Smith made perfect sense.
The Glitter Band? Adam And The Ants? Both great and only for seeing two drummers pound out the same rhythm on both sides of the stage. Whether they flank a fat runner from the showband era wearing a padded cape or a lucky ex-punk talking up Burundi Beat, having a couple of drummers offers the kind of excitement that might even make the likes of Travis or Snow Patrol worth watching - that's the kind of miracle two drummers work on a band.
But two keyboard players? Like Chikinki? Well...it's less impressive sounding than two drummers. After all, they're only, like, keyboards, aren't they? Would a second CD-ROM pressed home into a spare Korg not simply be as much on-stage use as a second keyboard-player without having to listen to their dreary tour van stories about their frustrations at never getting the opportunity to play Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto or even note how they stick coloured labels onto their keyboards to keep them in time with the rest of the band.
Strangely, on listening to Lick Your Ticket, there's never the sense of this band being anything out of the ordinary. Opening tracks, Assassinator 13 and Ether Radio sound better with each listen and Scissors Paper Stone stands out from the rest of the songs that appear late on the album but otherwise, it's as safe as a Tory MP standing in Kensington And Chelsea. Such an accusation would, however, sit ill with their suggestion of a sound that owes much to Primal Scream's XTRMNTR but which lacks the anarchy of that album and, as terrible as Bobby Gillespie's rapping was, his vocals were somehow suited to the sound. Yet, what grates most about this album is the singing of Rupert Browne - a name that sounds more at home on a rollcall for hockey at Charterhouse than in the sleeve notes of a rock album - that's ill-equipped for the music he fronts. Had they someone upfront who sounds as though they'd drunk whiskey more than they had high tea, Lick Your Ticket could have been a powerful listen but, instead, it ends up sounding weak. Taking one example, To Sacrifice A Child does hint at being a great rock song but it's ruined by Browne's lacklustre vocal, which is closer to Adam Duritz's whining than is altogether healthy.
As part of their promotion, Chikinki are under the illusion of being part of our musical future when, instead, their music looks back to so much of the past - snatches of punk here, a little hard rock there and a vocalist who's wandered in from another band entirely. Two keyboards? There's as much thrill here as I could personally draw from a church organ and whilst it has its moments, Lick Your Ticket is not quite the rock album it imagines itself to be.