HERE'S WHAT MICK MERCER FORMERLY OF MELODY MAKER & NME HAD TO SAY RECENTLY
We’re having a British week here at the Mercer journal, although you wouldn’t initially know unless I tell you, where right through to the weekend we’re looking at great home-grown talent (unless I run out) and Ob Jay Da are about as weird, in reality, as you can get, while being totally conventional on the other hand, so we’ll start with them.
Let me explain. Here we have an ancient CD they were kind enough to send with some vinyl I’ll be tackling tomorrow (along with Gary O’Connor’s first post-13th Chime single in Long Bone Trio), and their longevity is interesting as you’d think the odds were stacked against them. Tim and Tarn, who have been two-thirds of Ob Jay Da since the 80’s, also do music as a career, which is odd when you think about it. One side of their activities is being in a covers band for convention/corporate work, or wedding receptions (etc), and they also do a Pretenders tribute, as Tarn has that same lopsided ache to her voice (especially ‘Kid’ era) and an all-purpose 80’s one. Alongside that, ensuring sanity is retained, they’ve maintained Ob Jay Da. (Check out the Time Machine section of the website proper and see the Gothy hair. They’re not that conventional! They even named the album after a famous well which is supposed to turn anything thrown into it into stone.)
Released in 1994, this is a bit of a mish-mash album, having a true 80’s New Wave pop angular energy to it, and opener ‘Perfection’ is one of the best songs The Pretenders never wrote, catchy, scuffed up pop with jabbing energy. ‘Transcendental Mood’ is slightly unhinged bubbly rock, ‘Psychedelic Bed’ tougher, sharper and agitated. ‘All The Time’ is a bit of bland rock by comparison, and strangely annoying, like a laddish version of The Cult gone wrong!
‘Reincarnate’ switches back to almost creamy indiepop, with the rangy ‘Sinners & Saints’ a catchier howling pop-rock variant, all jaunty and springy with its drum emphasis. ‘Crazy Little World Of My Own’ is unusual ,starting like babyish Kate Bush and then growing increasingly strident with guitar-led flourishes, and it’s all curiously invigorating. ‘Children Of Stone’ is heartfelt and woozy, adding further strange complexity to the overall picture,
‘ Changing Lately’ swings back to a ‘Brass In Pocket’ feel, and ‘Marie Celeste’ doesn’t actually go for any atmosphere, just floats along. ‘Touch’ is more sensitive emoting indie with a deepening mood, and a lightly Bowiesque ‘Fortean Phenomena’ is a cutely mental end.
They’re on their sixth album now, all on their own label, and this independence is doubtless heightened by having developed their own studio, all of which proves you can keep going, satisfying your artistic needs without becoming some kind of cabbage, although this record shows that balance is precarious when your influences are wide. The record switches from female to male vocals, and back again, which gives it unexpected surges, just as the dreamier side can shunt into expected poppier behaviour, so you’re not sure where you are, but overall the odd thing is that it does make sense. They’re still nutters, mind.
2. Transcendental Mood
3. Psychedelic Bed
4. All The Time
6. Sinners & Saints
7. Crazy Little World
Of My Own
8. Children Of Stone
9. Changing Lately
10. Marie Celeste
12. Fortean Phenomena
13. Nightmare *
( *download version only )
OJD CD9 Burning Ice Records 1994
CD album £20 (last few)