Dirtbox - Uneasy Listening

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Aubitt
Catalog Number: 78201
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:20:00

Dirtbox are bassist John Jowitt, best known for IQ, Jadis, and Arena, and guitarist Mark Westwood (ex-White Trash). And, in saying so, you sort of think you know what to expect. You're wrong.

Uneasy Listening is an eclectic mix of sounds - one minute Porcupine Tree ("Story"), the next neo-prog, the next Oingo Boingo-like ("Bottle") ? all stylistically, though without being clonish.

The album opens with a rockin', almost metal, feel with some great guitar playing in "Panda Rosa," of both the six and four string variety. I'll admit Westwood's vocals (or is it Jowitt?) are delivered a bit like that fella from Right Said Fred during the verses. "Story" has a shimmering guitar like many neo-prog classics (especially of the Arena and Marillion variety). The instrumental "Bella" is dark and old-fashioned - Fellini-esque to put it in cinematic terms.

The balladic "End Game" has a twist to it - Jowitt's bass thrumming just under the melody provided by Martin Orford on piano and Westwood on guitar - its almost incongruous, except it works. It's as if something dark, something sinister, lurks beneath the surface. If nothing else, it makes this a very edgy, very tense piece of music

"Clean," on the other hand is popish in a Squeeze kind of way, far from the typical pop song, a just a bit eccentric. Ian "Moon" Gould provides vocals. It's a jumping tune. Tracey Hitchings (Landmarq) lends guest vocals to "Telegraph Hill." I'm not always fond of Hitchings' voice, but here I like it in this mellow tune.

"Two Step" begins jazzy, with a sexily warm sax intro by Tony Wright, becomes mournful (a la Tom Waits) for a few measures, spins off into a B-52's/The Knack/80's rock kinda thing, ... well, it shifts gears quite a bit throughout its minutes. Throw in a guitar riff that could easily fit in a Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Bros. jam, to boot.

This is one of those releases that gets you excited just by the people involved, and then doesn't disappoint - unless you were expecting something dull and routine. It is consistently engaging and makes for something far from "uneasy listening" - yet, at the same time, as the title suggests, far from being "easy listening" as well. Track this one down.

Panda Rosa (7:44) / Story (5:23) / Bella (2:29) / Bottle (3:54) / Telegraph Hill (4:29) / Clean (6:53) / Two-Step (6:07) / End Game (3:21)

John Jowitt - bass, vocals
Mark Westwood - guitar, vocals
Rob Green - drums
Ian 'Moon' Gould - vocals (6)
Tracey Hitchings - vocals (5)
Matt Goodluck - vocals (4, 2)
Martin Orford - piano (8)
Tony Wright - 'saxamophone' (7)

Uneasy Listening (1999)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1136
Language: english


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