When Nine Inch Nails were at their peak in the US, their label Interscope records gave frontman Trent Reznor his own label imprint called Nothing Records. One of its early signings was picking up UK electro pioneers Pop Will Eat Itself from a fallout with their North American label BMG. The result is one of the best and most undercelebrated albums of the ’90s, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos.
While it was a departure from the band’s earlier sound, it didn’t matter to me as this was my introduction to the group. I bought this thing on cassette and played it pretty much nonstop through the Brit Pop invasion of the mid ’90s and could not believe my eyes when I saw that the band would be touring the UK this year. The two singles from the record, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” and “R.S.V.P.” were absolutely brilliant songs and should have elevated the band to immediate superstardom in the States. Instead, they enjoyed moderate success without ever truly breaking out.
The “Love from Stourbridge” tour brings together Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, two of Stourbridge’s biggest musical exports, touring together for the first time since 1989. For PWEI they are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic 1989 album This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This!. To celebrate the milestone, the band is playing the record in full along with a selection of other tracks.
This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! features many of the band’s best-loved tracks, including “Wise Up! Sucker,” “Can U Dig It?” and “Def Con One.” This record was a bit before my time as I was still in my thrash metal phase when this one came out, but it was hailed as a breakthrough and genre-bending masterpiece upon its release. Listening to it now I hear elements of Thrill Kill Kult, early Faith No More, and a bit of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, and it still holds up quite well. While it isn’t as sonically fulfilling as the later records because of the oftentimes thin sounding production machines of the ’80s, it’s a remarkable record that holds a place in history.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the live show as I hadn’t seen or heard this band in twenty years or so. Graham Crabb fronting a spectacular lineup featuring both old and new members of the camp absolutely blew me away. The energy, the sound, the musicianship is all top notch and proved to the capacity crowd that these guys still have plenty to say as they reclaim their place at the top of the UK musical food chain. Although I would have loved to hear more from my favorite record Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, It was a show for the ages. The fact that they managed to squeeze a blistering version of “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” as an encore was enough for me to want to see this show again and again.
Although I have to admit that I was really there to see PWEI, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were on fire. They blasted through a set of industrial guitar-driven electronic classics that proved they are still a force to be reckoned with. Always driven by the dual bass players, it begs the question, why didn’t this catch on with other bands?