The Urban Voodoo Machine – “Rare Gumbo”
The name alone should be enough to tell you that The Urban Voodoo Machine are no run of the mill band. Certainly, if you have seen them live then you will probably know that even describing them as a music band is a complete understatement. The band were formed and are led by Paul-Ronney Angel and have been described as a group of “shadowy, rambunctious troupe of rabble-rousing troubadours”. Rare Gumbo is actually a compendium of out-takes, b-sides, live tracks, rarities and early EP tracks. The fact that this alone consists of 22 songs tells you a lot about the bands creative output.
First track, “Last Dance Of The Silver Wolf” is perhaps as good an introduction to the band as you are likely to get. It opens up like a gypsy song, but we are not talking “My Fat Gypsy Wedding” but instead an authentic Romanian traveller style. It is an instrumental but with a cacophony of sounds which are promising mystery and danger. This is a style, sound and theme which is replicated throughout this album. “The Death Of A Celestine Rose” opens in a similar manner but adds a really seductive and cool latin beat. You really get a sense of where the “Voodoo” in the name comes from. Whilst, they head even deeper in to voodoo territory with “Corpse In My Trunk”. This song will really put the frighteners on the listener, although not as much as on track ten, “Dead On A String”! The voodoo again takes hold on “Emptiness” which is like the accompaniment to an erotic snake dance – Burlesque dancers take note!
It is not all dark and mysterious, however, and the band are equally as adapt at delivering some good old rock ‘n’ roll. “Getting Hot Coming Down” sees that influence shining through. It shifts along with a rockabilly beat and is a fun time, up and dancing song. “You Get Me By The Balls” is about as straight forward as this band gets, as it’s a classic rockabilly song. They are also able to rock things up even more, towards a more modern rock band style. On “Here Comes The Thunder” they produce a pure rock n roll song which brings to mind images of drunken debauchery. “We Don’t Love You” and “Hells Bells” are equally rocking, sleazy songs.
The diversity of the band is something that is really key to them and the fact that they can slow things down is a demonstration of this. The album slows things right down for “Recipe For Disaster” and “Alone In The City”. However, this is only to deliver an even darker and more hypnotic sound. Whilst ” Orphans Lament” is again slower but adds a vaudeville showman style to the song.
Importantly, amongst all the darkness and mystery, the band are never even close to being po faced. “Plenty More Room” is just one of the songs where their clever use of lyrics demonstrate a very keen sense of humour”. Likewise, “Six Weeks On The Road” is a great tongue in cheek song about the requirements for a musician’s girl to keep her personal hygiene up (you will have to hear it to believe it!!). “Love Song 666” is another one with great non child friendly lyrics which builds in to a great gypsy style show tune.
The album concludes with a couple of live tunes which unless I am wrong are recorded on a radio show hosted by Clive Anderson (the mind boggles to think how this came about!) These tracks do, however, demonstrate that The Urban Voodoo Machine consists of a great group of musicians who are more than capable of delivering the songs in a live environment.
The fact that this album is made up of old EPs, b-sides, out takes etc is really just a great example of the tremendous ability of this band. The fact that the majority of the songs are far better than most other bands will ever produce on their main releases just about says it all.It also bodes extremely well for the next full album which is hopefully due out early 2014. They are a wonderful, unique and brilliant band and if you get the chance to see them live they will guarantee you one of the best nights out you can have. It is surely, only a matter of time before Quentin Tarantino discovers The Urban Voodoo Machine and books them as his house band to score an entire soundtrack to one of his films!!