Ian Bel – Fake Factory

a batch of pretty good, cleverly presented tunes, tunes that - if written by some young Turks, or if presented as the work of some post-post -modern subversive guru - could stand a chance.


http://www.ianbel.com


Well, this is a salutary lesson in the power of artwork. Looking at the whole package, with its “Limited Edition” proclamations and images that are photo-shopped to an inch of their life, it’s easy to think this is some sort of MOR record for truckers. I suppose I could get all gauche and counter-intuitive about it, lots of people revel in bad taste nowadays, but there’s some inextricable link between art on a record and the music. Unless we’re on the Land of Piss-Take, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that if the release is that good, and the band has a clue, the cover ain’t too shabby. This record just looks tacky. I know it sounds snobbish. Sorry.


Fake Factory however throws up some really, really good tracks; sparky work outs with fine melodies and intelligent arrangements, like Teenage Vision.  Bel’s good at melodramatic slowies too, like Mr Government and Devil’s Daughter, both of which owe a fair bit to Bowie, Brel and Roxy: Bel’s voice adopts that wobbly croon of Ferry’s now and again. In fact the first CD one (the second is a collection of B sides which I admit I haven’t got round to listening to yet), is really, really good, especially if you like the glamour stomp of mid-period Roxy: London Calling or Beauty Queen are takes on something from Country Life. Sin is a great bluesy stomp that’s somehow escaped intact from 1973 whereas Boys, (as well as being probably the biggest & most enjoyable Bowie rip-off I’ve ever heard), could be a camp classic. Oh, I will also bet good money that he’s nabbed Copey’s Sunspots riff for the strident Angelic.


Okay, there are a few (well, a lot) of ropey lyrics (Agor boasts: “Now you’ve turned against society / you choose variety of the law / you dress yourself like a whore” sounds like a proclamation from a dyslexic Mary Whitehouse) but well, rock’s always been spattered with some strange wordsmiths. Actually it’s a probably a good idea not to read the lyrics…


Still there’s something very appealing about this CD to me: Bel seems to be a lad who’s not in his first flush, and someone who is obviously not the sharpest when it comes to managing his image and still he plugs on with a batch of pretty good, cleverly presented tunes, tunes that - if written by some young Turks, or if presented as the work of some post-post -modern subversive guru - could stand a chance. He needs to speak to John Ottway.


Rock music, it’s all about context.