Mittwoch, 28. September 2022

The Selecter – Celebrate The Bullet (1981)

"Celebrate the Bullet" is the second album by British ska band The Selecter, released in February 1981 on Chrysalis Records after the band had left the 2 Tone label. The album was recorded with producer Roger Lomas, who plays bass on some songs, and frequently seeks a more slow, eclectic sound, with new wave influences. Band members Charley Anderson and Desmond Brown, uncomfortable with the new approach, left the band during production and after the release of 1980 single "The Whisper" to form the band The People. They were replaced by keyboard player, James Mackie, and bass player, Adam Williams. Ian Dury and the Blockheads bassist Norman Watt-Roy played bass on the title track and "Washed Up and Left for Dead".

The album's lyrical content is frequently bleak, taking inspiration from early 1980s racial and social conflicts, economic problems and war. Upon release, the album was a critical and commercial failure. The release of the title track as a single unintentionally coincided with the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, and "at such a time it would have been a brave radio producer who would have earmarked a track titled 'Celebrate the Bullet' for a prime time slot." As a result, the single and album flopped and the band subsequently split up. Nonetheless, the album has more recently been reappraised, and is considered by lead singer Pauline Black to be among the band's best work.

Celebrate the Bullet is a dark and tense album, featuring a "less lively sound" than previous releases, and is strongly political, with lyrics focusing on social and racial relations, "cold war paranoia and fear for the future." In the words of Martin C. Strong, the album was a "more lugubrious state-of-the-nation musing" than "Too Much Pressure". In the Rough Guide to Rock, Peter Buckley said, "with a title like Celebrate the Bullet, we knew we were in for a serious sit-down talking-to. Sure, it was still pop music, it was still Britska (a term that, thankfully, was never widely used), it was still Pauline and the lads dancing around with lots of brass and a beat you could lean against, but it wasn't happy, not at all." One interviewer, whilst interviewing Black, described it as "a dark, haunting, bluesy iteration of ska that to my knowledge has never been attempted before or since." He said that "at times the songs have a new wave feel via synthesized keyboard melodies that buzz over Neol Davies' blistering, bluesy and soulful guitar solos and riffs. Other times its almost undefinable as the songs are driven by a seamless melting pot of rock, reggae and new wave via memorable melodies that stick in your head."

"Bristol & Miami" concerns the racial riots that had occurred in spring 1980 in Bristol (the 1980 St. Pauls riot) and Miami (the 1980 Miami riots), and is said to slightly predate fellow 2 Tone band the Specials' "Ghost Town", a documentation of UK riots released later on in 1981. The energetic song features "punky ska rhythms", which are "typical of the 2 Tone sound". According to one journalist, "the song can’t be read as encouraging rioting, but there is an eerie embattled exuberance to it, which complements the tension in the lyrics. The strangely uplifting ending reflects this contradiction of styles and thoughts." "Red Reflections" is a "joyous" song. The title song has a "staunch anti-violence, anti war-theme."

"Deep Water" has been interpreted as "the inner monologue of a person here in the U.S. contemplating the loss of their home in the sub-prime mortgage crisis." Black, who sees the song as working "on many different levels," was named after a town that Black saw a highway sign for whilst riding on the band's tour bus during their first American tour. She explained "The name just struck a chord with how I was feeling at the time. That tour was fraught with internal problems among us and I was deeply unhappy for most of the time, so I began to pen a song to reflect those inner feelings. I finished writing the song just around the time that keyboardist Desmond Brown finally walked out of the band for some unknown reason, just prior to the sacking of Charley Anderson. Believe me, it really did feel as though we were in ‘deepwater’ back then."


1 (Who Likes) Facing Situations
2 Deepwater
3 Red Reflections
4 Tell Me What's Wrong
5 Bombscare
6 Washed Up And Left For Dead
7 Celebrate The Bullet
8 Selling Out Your Future
9 Cool Blue Lady
10 Their Dream Goes On
11 Bristol And Miami

Bonus tracks:
12 The Whisper
13 Train To Skaville
14 Last Tango In Dub
15 Train To Skaville (12" Version)

The Selecter – Celebrate The Bullet (1981)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

3 Kommentare:

FiveGunsWest hat gesagt…

Nice write up! I didn't have the bonus tracks. Thanks. I bought this LP the day of release. Not what I had expected, at all. i thought I'd wasted my money. When that happens, you keep listening to try to justify the money you spent. I was slowly hooked and still love the album so much that I rock it on my sound system to this way. A dense work? Yes. A great album, absolutely. Highly recommended.

swappers hat gesagt…

Wow really interesting. Great notes too and like the comment from FiveGuns also, really helpful for something I wasn't sure about. Thanks guys

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