Sad Lovers And Giants - The Mirror Test
By the time this was released Sad Lovers and Giants had gone through a break up and then reformed with a radically changed line-up. The result was a very different outlook of the band to the one which had put out two albums earlier in the eighties and produced some fine, edgy, dark post-punk music. In many ways, The Mirror Test marked a complete change in style. This CD, a reissue of the original album with additional tracks has the word Redux added and differs from the original 1987 release with the addition of four new tracks from the EP of that name.
Apparently the band was not happy with the original mix and track listing and so took the opportunity of this reissue to make some changes. They messed around with the original listing to the extent that this is a different album in many ways, and the additional tracks, which are largely instrumental off-cuts never included (or perhaps intended to be included) on the original album, do add a different dimension to it. Interestingly, because the original tapes were lost in a fire, this has been remastered from the original CD issue and a damn good job has been done of it too, if I may add.
Those who are looking for a rerun of the original line up may find themselves surprised by this album. For a start, it is not as dark as the earlier releases. Also, the tendency of the band to throw in some discordant chords or phrases is far less evident. In truth, Sad Lovers and Giants seem to have rediscovered melody and there is a much smoother, more melodic and even, dare I say, more commercial sound to the album. However, don't let that put you off for this is still some very fine late post-punk with tendencies towards jangle pop. A change, yes, but not one necessarily for the worse. It does not take long listening to this before the strains of bands like Joy Division and the Chameleons as influences begin to show through. If anything, by adopting a more melodic approach to making music the band have moved closer to the sound the Chameleons were producing at this time.
The tracks themselves are, as a result of the changes described above, considerably more accessible than before. The opener, "White Russians" was originally a b-side to the first single released from the album, but it does kick off as the band mean to go on. "Summer and Smoke" is a complete reworking of the original track, which was much more sparse in its instrumentation. I actually think this is a better version. "Return to Clocktower Lodge" continues with the easy-on-the-ear music which largely characterises the album, but it is left to the penultimate track, "House of Clouds" to produce the best. This track has some superb guitar and piano work, with a really good melody and some excellent lyrics - something which had often been a weak point of the band's earlier music.
And finally, a positive thing to say about a record company (for a change). Cherry Red have made a habit of remastering and reissuing some of the old forgotten classics from the eighties. This is something for which they are to be heartily commended because these albums deserve another hearing, having been largely overlooked when they originally came out. Sad Lovers and Giants were a band which showed much promise but never, like so many of their post-punk contemporaries, got the acclaim or success they deserved. I earnestly hope that Cherry Red continue with these reissues and there are at least half a dozen classics which I could suggest, if they wever want any advice.
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