Mark Sultan - $
Dominic Valvona 24/11/2010
Omnivorous channelling deviant Mark Sultan, unleashes a 50s doo-wop and Teenage Shutdown garage mind-rape of an album. The Sam the Sham turban wearing crooner and nascent wailer bemoans, screams, laments and de-constructs a plethora of musical genres, to produce one of the years most radically fucked-up and crazed albums.
Sultan has already trailblazed through numerous outfits, including King Kahn & BBQ Show, Les Sexareenos and The Almighty Defenders, knocking about with equally freaked out musicians as The Black Lips along the way. He now returns once again to his solo project, releasing the dollar sign embellished and crooked tombstone sporting LP and follow-up to his pun intended 2007 acclaimed debut, The Sultanic Verses.
Not so much a tribute, but more a re-imagined version of those bobby sox wearing teen days of the 50s and bowel cut days of the 60s, when adolescents fainted to their favourite Rock'n'Roll balladeer, and a nod to the era of the garage band, when teens donned capes and toured around in hearses.
$ begins with an introductory voyage into the psychotic visions of Sultan, the 'Icicles' opener ramble goes from a tremelo dirge induced biker-chick sexploitation, to a fiercer, tenser Velvet Underground piece of schlock. Like a bookend, the final pronounced cacophony of 'Nobody But You', also lumbers its way along an equally genre-hopping soundtrack, but with a more pained prose to unrequited love.
Whether through ennui or a lack of Ritalin meds, our depraved loon swaps styles at the drop of a amusing looking hat. On 'Don't Look Now', he turns in raucous versions of both Dave,
Dee, Dozy, Mick and Titch's 'Legend of Xanadu' and Love's 'Seven is Seven', via the Tex-Mex boarder; whilst on the brain oozing barrage of 'Status', our protagonist drags punk-rock and psychedelic slop through the quagmire of imploding lo-fi nonsense, to make a right falling apart at the seams screamer - hey, I'm not complaining.
There are also infectious renditions of Joe Meek spacey warped reverb and echo on, The Shadows take copious amounts of uppers, 'Misery's Upon Us', and heavy Ramones-esque phonetics twinned with frat-rock on 'Berserk'. However my favourite is the hauntingly pinned playing card analogy of 'Ten Of Hearts', a modern day take on the soundtrack to high school romance, or a new swansong for 'Rebel Without A Cause'.
Vocally, Sultan either mournfully croons like not-so-high falsetto Frankie Valli or soulfully swigs from the same vessel as Sam Cooke. However, when he's on a roll, his voice takes on the more galloping retort of Sky Saxon, and even oddly Dave Edmunds. Even when compressed, drenched in reverb or spookily masked, every line is concise and clear, with the lyrics adopting a more knowingly cock-a-snook at losing your true love, getting loaded, “I was a teenage suicide”, and courting.
This is the work of a genius or a fool, either way it just don't matter a jig, as I've become obsessed with it, playing the album until the lasers in my CD player burn scars onto the disc. Forget the Black Lips and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and buy this turds on a bum riding, tales from the crypt songbook LP instead, you'll thank me for it.