Troublegum (Deluxe Edition)

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The album. After finding some success on the alternative scene with a few mini-albums and a rough and ready major release (1992's excellent Nurse) Therapy went into the studio to record what would be their undoubted commercial peak. Troublegum found that all important gap in the market between the wavering Metal/Grunge scenes and the alternative/Brit Pop scene that was about to sweep the charts. Recorded with their classic lineup of Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Fyfe Ewing, the opening of "Knives/Screamager/Hellbelly/Stop It You're Killing Me" is as immediate as they come. It's a sweary, angry, short, sharp blast of indie-rock littered with blasphemy, sex and violence, but its also a massive departure into pop territory for a band that had previously inhabited much darker areas. Part of this is due to Chris Sheldon's production, brightening up the muddied sound of their previous releases and opening up the band to a whole new fanbase. Coming back to this album after 20 years its amazing how many hooks Andy Cairns could fit into Troublegum, all the time underpinned by Ewing's uniquely danceable drums and McKeegan's throbbing basslines, there's no wonder it spawned five hit singles in the UK (pretty much unheard of for a band that were still considered "Metal"). In addition to these crowd pleasing moments there's "Unbeliever" which could have easily been incorporated into a Depeche Mode setlist during the same era, and the unsung hero of the record "Lunacy Booth", which includes a memorable appearance from Lesley Rankine. Of the 14 tracks here it's card to find a duff note. The extras. Therapy are a band that had fun with their b-sides with varying degrees of success. In terms of covers, there's "Breaking The Law" a seemingly tongue in cheek rendition which falls a bit flat, whilst "CC Rider" is an absolute blast. The remixes, if nothing else give a good indication of where electronic music (particularly rock-crossover variety) was heading at the time, for better or for worse, whilst also paving the way for David Holme's inventive interludes on Infernal Love. There's also an interesting orchestral "Lunacy Booth" which similarly acts as a testing ground for Infernal Love's cello-heavy compositions. Of the original flipsides from this period "Evil Elvis" stands out as probably the one track that could hold its own on a parent album as strong as Troublegum, it certainly has all the catchy pop hooks. Then there's "Nice n Sleazy" which sounds like a bizarre sea shanty and is all the better for it, a fantastic oddity. You also get the tracks from the band's string of quality EPs of the period (ShortSharpShock, Face The Strange and Opal Matra), the latter's title track being an absolute classic in its own right. Then there's some interesting demos which only emphasise how far the band came from concept to final product ("Knives" in particular pales in comparison to the album version). I'd imagine hardcore Therapy fans would already have most of the tracks included here (although some of them were only available on vinyl) but its certainly an impressive hoard and well worth a look if you've thrown out/can't be arsed with all your old singles. Verdict. Troublegum is an album that is often overlooked outside the rock scene but hopefully this re-issue, after 20 years, will remind the wider public what a great band Therapy were/are.

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