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Elvis Belt (Disc 1)

Cud

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Album Review

Originally released in 1990 on Imaginary Records, Elvis Belt was a compilation that gathered all of the Leeds-based band Cud's songs that preceded their first proper album, 1989's When in Rome, Kill Me. Gathering singles dating back to 1987's "Slack Time" with a pair of previously unissued tracks and Cud's contributions to a pair of Imaginary Records' trademark tribute albums (the Kinks' "Lola" and the Bonzo Dog Band's "I'm the Urban Spaceman," both flattened out and speeded up into near oblivion), Elvis Belt showcases the band's sardonic sense of humor and punk-derived D.I.Y. scrappiness in its earliest and crudest forms. By the time of When in Rome, Kill Me, the band had matured a bit lyrically and gained considerably more polish musically, and that album compares favorably to fellow U.K. smart-alecks like the Wonder Stuff and Pop Will Eat Itself, even if it's not a patch on the wit and tunefulness of the great Half Man Half Biscuit. These early tracks are rougher, scrappier, noisier, but unfortunately, not quite as good. However, even old-time Cud fans who have the original CD will want to spring for the Cherry Red reissue thanks to the inclusion of a bonus disc entitled Elvis Handbag that was compiled by the band just for this release. Containing the band's first Peel Session from 1988, early versions of songs (like "Purple Love Balloon" and "Possession") that went on to appear on later albums, and other rarities, the disc is actually a much more representative portrait of the band's strengths, including its unique blend of the usual U.K. indie tropes with a tough, dancefloor-friendly sensibility reminiscent of vintage Northern soul. The inclusions of the band's utterly cracked funk rave-up version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (originally released on Imaginary's '70s AM hits tribute Alvin Lives [In Leeds]) and the Stone Roses-like Brit-funk of its take on Clarence Carter's blues standard "Backdoor Santa" are worth the money all by themselves, but the later and more polished singles are equally worthy.

Elvis Belt (Disc 1), Cud
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