|Watkin Tudor Jones Jnr
|Memoirs of a Clone
|Chameleon Publishing/Random Boy
|Sean O Tim, Mark Buchanan, Johnny Fourie
|2001, 13 tracks, Total Play: 50.8 min
The initial reaction of all the people I've played this CD to is "Cool, can I borrow it to copy?". Halfway through they have changed their minds, since to copy an album like this is just a skanky thing to do. It's that good. And he's a local, which only adds to the appeal.
All that said, this couldn't be termed a purely Hip-Hop album as Jones, (aka Max Normal when he's with his buddies) chamges styles constantly - one minute squeezing out words like a 1920's speakeasy crooner, and another musing with all the dark moodiness of Massive Attack or Portishead. Some tracks are even acoustic love songs - it's all a bit of a mindfuck.
This variety is how he solves the problem faced by so many other South African outfits, namely, how to make the transition from live performer to recording artist. The nature of the SA music scene is such that new performers can only come to general attention on the live music circuit, which is how I discovered Waddy - as I nursed a particularly violent Oppikoppi hangover. But on this album you can see his face in his words - the naughty glee of a man having fun on a stage becomes the album of a man having fun in a studio. He is unapologetic (no fake US accents here) as he raps about surf, Cape Town, Jungle Oats and takes the piss out of the girl in the front row whose G-String keeps sticking out of her Levis.
In a recent interview Jones described his songs as "fairy-stories", and this is the most accurate description I can find for tracks which continually defy description. The songs are stories, spliced together with continual narrative of a journey, straight out of an arcade kung-fu game. The negative spaces around the tracks are what define them more that what they actually "are".
The opening track "Good Old Fashion Loving" is pure Billie Holiday with a hefty dose of Spanish Fly. This is followed by "Max Normal" - the only description for this is 'the Beastie Boys on Durban Poison'! The middle tracks are gentle, Sunday afternoon by the pool tracks, while towards the end of the album we encounter good old-fashioned rock guitar combined with Jones' intelligent, easy lyrics telling terrible stories. The final track brings it all full circle with just a little hint of a smile. This is music that is wasted in the background. You have to hear this album, not just listen to it, to fully understand and appreciate it.
The only real problem I had with this album is that usual bugbear of debut albums - poor production. On some tracks, be it experimental or not, you can't hear the lyrics, which defeats the purpose completely. If, in his own words: "You gonna be beeg one day" then, with any luck, this problem will be solved. This cat has style, he's worth watching. And listening to. (7.5/10)