Well, this is a treat getting sent a review album that I can review pretty much without listening to it!
I say this as I already own all the material on this best of The Urban Voodoo Machine's first 15 years. As you may have already gathered, it's a collection of all their singles over that time. Like the band itself it is always distinctly them and yet over the course of 15 songs you hear them evolve as they have done through various line-ups and through good times and bad. This is all reflected in the band's own brand of Bourbon-soaked gypsy blues bop and stroll.
The opening first single Always Out is the band's mantra to having a good time and never wanting to go home. You know this album is a familiar friend and also a great primer for anyone who hasn't yet discovered one of the best live bands around for the last 15 years.
The Orphan's Lament was an early live favourite and has always sounded great with that luscious trumpet in the background as Paul-Ronney Angel leads us though the dark despair of the Orphan he's singing about.
Then it's time for the brilliant Love Song 666: a song that had it's opening line used as the tag line on one of the bands best t-shirts as well as almost sounding like a tango for your most dissolute friends to get on down and party. Just like the first time I saw the band playing at a party at trumpet maestro Lloyd Gomez Deville's house back when I couldn't believe that someone as out there as Lloyd could keep it together to play in a band - let alone be the good Doctor he is.
Goodbye To Another Year has become an anthem to be played at cool New Year's eve parties the world over. It features one of the other members of one of Paul-Ronney's other bands the Ba ba Booms the legendary Sami Yaffa who guests amongst the rembetika-styled blues stomp.
Before members of the band actually started to die too soon they put out Cheers For the Tears to dispel rumours that Paul-Ronney had got so drunk he fell into the Regents Canal at Camden. Thankfully he hadn't and got a brilliant song out of the tale - a real stomp-along classic.
For High Jeopardy Thing they got Jim Jones back to help this marching band-style, neo-gospel shouter that has a wonderful bass line from the Rev Gavin Smith as well as showcasing the band's ever more wide-screen sound.
Rather You Shot Me Down sees the UVM getting a bit more down-beat as he pleads with his love that he'd rather she shot him down than leave him as Rob The Kid Skipper's violin keeps the emotional feel of the song where it needs to be.
Help Me Jesus is the cleaned up radio edit and features the thankfully still alive and kicking Wilko Johnson as they give us their best gospel blues shouter. It's probably best heard by the Marching band version of The Urban Voodoo Machine as everyone goes full-on gospel wailing on the chorus. Oh man, this is a great song.
Pipe And Slippers Man of course had a video that features the talents of a certain Mr Rat Scabies as the Pipe and slippers man who has switched the drugs and booze rock and roll lifestyle for a more sedate life although the rave up they have on the song is anything but sedate.
With the passing years things started to get a bit more downbeat. Indeed, Goodnight My Dear is one of the more poignant sad songs in the set that was for a good friend of the band who left us too soon it's a great song for the dearly departed to shed a tear to.
Crazy Maria is also about another dead friend who left us all too soon and from the sounds of it she was a great party animal who told Paul-Ronney all sorts of wild tales. Sadly, the police didn't want to investigate her passing too closely so she had to be commemorated in this wondrous Jazzy blues song.
While We Were All Asleep is a plea for us all to wake up to what's been going on and how the creeping authoritarian nature of our governments have taken away a lot of the fun we have. Naturally, it has a great sing-along element to it along with some great circus style playing.
Fallen Brothers is the UVM's lament to their own fallen brothers, Nick Marsh who died of throat cancer and Rob 'The Kid' Skipper who died of a Heroin overdose having not listened hard enough to the band's Heroin Put My Brothers In the Ground. This is sad and still celebratory as it gets into its Rembetika dance stride to become a good knees up come sad lament.
Rusty Water & Coffin Nails is the bands hymn to Paul-Ronney's favourite friends - yes good old Bourbon and Cigarettes and played at a perfect pace to sway along to while Slim's piano motif is the hub the song is built around as they rest of the band add the flesh to it with some nice trombone and of course the signature double drums of Jary and J Roni-Moe to keep us all singing and dancing.
The album closes with last January's single, the January Blues which reflects upon the state of this world we find ourselves in a total mess of Brexit and austerity and hoping that somehow things will start to get better instead of worse, wanting the old freedom we used to have back once more that and for the nightmare of the Trump presidency to be over.
This is a great best of and an album everyone needs to own, so do the right thing and go get a copy from: The Urban Voodoo Machine Onine
Or go and pledge for an advance copy and all sorts of other extras at UVM Pledge Music Page