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The Botanics Verses

The March Violets

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Album Review

Replacing early vinyl-only compilations as the definitive history of the band's earliest days, The Botanic Verses — groaningly obvious pun of a title aside — makes for mighty fine listening. If the March Violets never quite escaped the shadow of fellow Leeds denizens and early supporters the Sisters of Mercy, it's not for lack of trying — Denbigh was no Andrew Eldritch clone in terms of singing style (though, like Eldritch, he clearly loved his David Bowie collection), while the dark, aggro surge of the music carved its own wired and romantic path. Guitarist Ashton and bassist Elliott found a reasonable space between Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Bauhaus for their respective approaches, and were as much masters of shade, throb, and scalpel sharp guitar lines as anyone. Perhaps inevitably beginning and ending with the mighty punch of "Snake Dance" — the initial version is the extended 12" mix, and arguably superior in terms of all around drama to the original — The Botanic Verses isn't organized by any particular order of recording. Full recording details are provided for the trainspotters — noted producer Flood got some of his earliest credits on a variety of tracks — while it's very conveniently noted whether Garland or Murray was duetting with Denbigh at any particular point. It's no surprise in the end why the band essentially ended after Denbigh's departure in later years; when he was around, the tension usually built to the breaking point. The male/female vocal dynamic was definitely one of the March Violets' strong points, and their most successful tracks push that hard, whether it's the more immediately radio friendly dance-rock fury of "Walk Into the Sun" or the murkier edge of "Children on Stun." Plenty of other winners surface throughout: the slow-then-fast dank funk of "Slow Drip Lizard," the wonderfully vicious "Radiant Boys," the blunt "1 2 I Love You."

The Botanics Verses, The March Violets
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