The release of new music by Crippled Black Phoenix (CBP) always, in this listener’s opinion, peaks the interest. On this occasion we have an EP of what are essentially cover versions; the premise here though is that these are a celebration of songs that have influenced Justin Greaves and CBP either in music or life, or have been on the cover song short list. Justin puts it like this:
“These songs are ones I have wanted to record for some time, ones where I feel a connection and ones where I just wanted to have a go at doing our own version, out of respect for a good tune.”
That does sum it up very well; there are songs here with thought provoking, evocative and maybe inspirational lyrics, depending on your interpretation of course. CBP are no stranger to the cover song, indeed throughout their recording history they have appeared as extra or hidden tracks, or on albums such as I Vigilante and more recently, the track Turn to Stone on latest album Bronze.
Recorded at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire during May 2017 by Sam Harper with the assistance of Luke Farnell, it was mixed and mastered at Tri-lamb Studio, Stockholm by Karl Daniel Liden. There are six tracks included with a total running time of 32 minutes.
The set kicks off with False Spring by American alternative band Arbouretum; not being familiar with this band I checked the original track out, and although it is somewhat lighter here CBP have used some edgier guitar to add their unique style to it. This is followed by Swans track The Golden Boy Swallowed by the Sea; this is much closer to the original with its evocative lyrics. Will-O-The Wisp by Magnolia Electric Co is given a different touch by adding Belinda Kordic’s wonderful vocals, beautiful and at times delicate on a song that appears to suit the CBP treatment so well.
The track that initially caught my interest on this release is a cover of Victory by Nomeansno (NMN) from Canada, a hugely underrated band of whom I have been a fan for some time. Of all the tracks on Horrific Honorifics, this is the one that is most different from the original, but it is still easily recognisable, CBP giving the song a fuller sound with the addition of keyboards compared to NMN powerful trio set up, all the while retaining the menace and power of the original. I really like what they have done to enhance this song, and hope it will encourage more listeners to investigate Nomeansno.
Following The God Machine’s In Bad Dreams we are treated to CBP’s take on The Faith Healer by The Sensational Alex Harvey band. It’s a brave move to cover an iconic song from such a revered and extensive canon, but boy do they pull it off; the guitar captures the sharp, stabbing lines of Zal Cleminson, while the keyboards pay perfect homage to Hugh McKenna’s contributions. The vocals offer a different aspect to the delivery of the lyrics from Alex Harvey’s original, going some way to stamp CBP’s own take on it. On discussing this album with a friend he described this track as CBP playing Faith Healer as the Sisters of Mercy – I am not familiar with that band, so he may be right.
This is a great collection of interesting songs which gives some insight into the influences and mindset that has gone into creating this excellent band. Crippled Black Phoenix have a worthy addition to their catalogue here, and perhaps your collection, although as a big fan of their work I could be just a touch biased. The sound quality is very good, clear and precise even at higher volumes. Give it a listen and hopefully buy it in either of the two available formats, CD and digital download.
01. False Spring (6:06)
02. The Golden Boy Swallowed by the Sea (5:34)
03. Will-O-The-Wisp (3:59)
04. Victory (8:00)
05. In Bad Dreams (3:08)
06. The Faith Healer (5:58)
Total time – 32:45
Justin Greaves – Drums, Percussion, Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Daniel Änghede – Vocals
Mark Furnevall – Synths, Bass
Belinda Kordic – Vocals, Lead Vocal (track 3)
Helen Stanley – Piano, Harmonium, Backing Vocals
Jonas Stålhammar – Added Guitar
Eric Mansfield – Vocals (track 6)
Chrissie Caufield – Violin (tracks 2 & 3)
Robert – Mandola (track 3)
Daisy Chapman – Backing Vocals (tracks 1 & 5)
Record Label: Artists Musicians Outlaws
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 6th July 2017