Turn That Noise Down - Arrested Development

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1992 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Susan goes back 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days In The Life Of...

Oh man, I’d forgotten quite how brilliant 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days In The Life Of is. From the scratchy, sample-ridden (Buddy Guy and Harry Belafonte are standouts), jazz-trumpet-filled opener of Man’s Final Frontier to the record-scratched hypnotics of Washed Away at the end, it is just stunning.

Mama’s Always on Stage has a laidback harmonica underpinning rap-like verse lyrics in a way that’s almost poetic and the chorus has me chair-dancing. People Everyday is one of the singles on the album and has a pure reggae vibe, putting a spin on Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone. Blues Happy is indeed a happy little 45 second burst of talked over guitar blues until it kicks into the second, and probably best known, single off the album, Mr Wendal, with its complex time signature and simple tune. Children Play With Earth comes next and keeps up the complicated rhythm, adding an oh so 70s sounding slap bass and funky guitar. Raining Revolution is just incredible, spoken word simplicity over a bassline that just pulls at your soul and is absolutely my favourite track on the album.

The tempo amps up again for Fishin’ 4 Religion and the brass blasts are back adding contrast to the woozy plinky synth sound and it is a real bop. The fishy theme continues with Give A Man A Fish, which owes more than a nod to Minnie Ripperton with an excellent sample, buoyed up by more funky guitar sounds. The oddly titled U is up next and another superb jazz sample, this time Mighty Quinn by Ramsey Lewis, and the piano/brass combo is showstopping, alongside machine gun rap. Another shorty, Eve of Reality, takes us into the natural world, with birdsong and, likely unintentional, hints of Pure Imagination (you’ll know it when you hear it). The natural theme continues with, well, Natural, although it is anything but as cinematic discussion, record scratch and drum machine abound. Although there’s also a healthy sprinkling of Earth, Wind and Fire in there too. Dawn of the Dreads is the clever title of the next very clever song. Again, there’s a real complexity to the jazzy bassline time signature that keeps you on edge in a very good way. Tennessee is the third, and final, single on the album and is a serious work of art that you have to listen to on headphones to get the full whoosh [tech term - Ed] of the stereo effect. It’s also a song that has you playing “spot the sample” as there are at least five different artists in there, from Prince to James Brown to the Brand New Heavies, but it just works. Washed Away rounds out the album with a gorgeous layering of instruments at odds with each other that all meld to make a very hypnotic finale.

So, yeah, this is an album that I’ve neglected for far too long and it’s definitely going back on my listening list. For a debut album it was a seriously strong start, and this is sadly reflected in the distinct lack of subsequent chart success for the band thereafter. They are apparently still going though, and they have been releasing albums every couple of years so maybe it shouldn’t be 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days till I listen to Arrested Development again. In the meantime, here comes the rain…

Image - Amazon

Powered by Blogger.