Urusei Yatsura: It Was 20 Years Ago Today. Well…

24th October 2016

Title: You Are My Urusei Yatsura

Label: Rocket Girl

My god, has it been 20 years (almost) since the We Are Urusei Yatsura album? I remember being introduced to this band by John Peel, way back. Well, 20 years, I suppose.

This – it has to be said right now, superb – collection ropes in a host of live performances for the BBC from the group’s first half of their career which include selections from their five Peel Sessions, three Evening Sessions with Steve Lamacq and much more.

There’s even a 1995 Radio Scotland performance of Kewpies Like Watermelon (“…we had just learned it so it sounds really fresh and exciting,” said leader singer Graham Kemp) to early-1998 versions of Slain (“The version of Siamese is the best we ever captured,” said Kemp). You’ll also find Dice/Nae Dice, a song written especially for their July 1997 Peel Session.

There is a wonderful clash of noise and melody on this album. Right from the first track, Plastic Ashtray, the band have a finely honed balance going on. On one side, they have this heaving mass of guitars and drums which they pick up and then chuck in your general direction with, “OK…take [grunt] that!” And, bang, you’ve got a head full of stuff with temporal bruises to boot. Then, while your brain is coming to terms with multicoloured distortions, the little devils insert melody into the whole thing. It’s almost Faust-like in its canny chaos/non-chaos plan.

A soaring, energetic almost [whisper it quietly] uplifting collection that will have you gaily [in the biblical sense of the word] leaping across the room, rippling with good humour and shimmering with accompanying vocals. A fine, fine collection.

“Some of the recordings we did for the BBC, I think, are better than what eventually made it onto vinyl,” said Kemp. Won’t disagree with that.