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Billy Childish - Archive From 1959 - The Billy Childish Story 3LP
Damaged Goods Records
In an era when a band is considered unusually prolific if they release an album every 18 months, Billy Childish is a glorious anomaly, a man who believes in the power of music in its raw, pure state and isn't afraid to roll tape and capture the moment when the inspiration strikes. Childish's muse is a frequent enough visitor that he's released nearly 120 albums since his first band, the Pop Rivets, cut their debut LP in 1979, and what's more surprising than the fact he's made so many records is that most of them fall somewhere between pretty good and pretty great. In 1991, Sub Pop took up the daunting task of assembling a Billy Childish career anthology with the two-CD set I Am the Billy Childish, which pulled one track each from the 50 albums Childish had put out to date; since then, the man's body of work has continued to expand at a feverish pace, and Archive from 1959: The Billy Childish Story by necessity takes a different approach. Instead of summarizing the totality of Childish's catalog of recorded work, Archive from 1959 is an introduction to his rock & roll music, ignoring for the time being his dabblings in blues, folk, and spoken word. Archive from 1959 doesn't bother itself with a chronological sequence of Childish's recordings, as this set jumps between decades and the man's various groups (Thee Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats, Thee Buff Medways, the Musicians of the British Empire and still more), but his approach hasn't changed very much with the years -- Childish still bashes away at his cheap guitar like some unholy fusion of the Sonics, Link Wray, and the Who in their early amphetamine overdrive period, he still can throw down a furious rant as easily as a snarky pop culture homage or a fractured observation on the battle of the sexes, and he seems perfectly incapable of not pouring out one hundred percent of his heart and soul when he steps up to the microphone. The 51 songs on these two CDs hardly tell the full story about Childish and his music, but as a summary of what he does best, it's accurate, compelling, and it rocks hard -- this is garage rock that holds up a mirror to every corner of this man's soul, and there are a few dozen remarkable stories to be found on Archive from 1959, along with music powerful enough to awake the dead.