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Made with a Passion

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Album Review

One would think that Childish couldn't get any more control over the recording of his material than he does, doggedly pursuing the punk rock muse to its logical conclusions. However, as he says in the liner notes to this entertaining collection, "I've made 80 LPs without a producer, but still there's always a manipulation going on, a dressing up (or dressing down) of the sound...(Passion) sets out to please no one...I like it." Taken from his demo recordings in his kitchen from 1990 to 1996, Passion is what it is, no treatment for tape hiss or apologies made for off notes or intrusions. Unlike the painful earnestness of lo-fi, though, this just sounds like Childish being himself instead of fitting any kind of scene, and all the better for that. The first track, "A to Z of Your Hart," starts with a separate collage of random poetry reading from what sounds like a young girl, a drum fill and general laughs from all assembled — po-faced seriousness left at the door, thanks. Similar bursts of randomness crop up throughout, whether it sounds like bits from a Lenny Bruce routine or older English pop songs or full band blasts fuzzily ripping along. The songs themselves, most often performed on acoustic guitar, capture the Childish view of life nicely — ranting against the assholes of the world in his distinct voice and accent, from a uniquely English point of view but in a way that anyone can empathize with. One of the funniest cuts is "Art or Arse?," where Childish ponders the ways of everyone from Kurt Schwitters to Damien Hurst. The young Zanna contributes some readings of Childish's poetry as well, a nice balance -"Judging Them All to Hell" and "The Naked Poet" are particularly sharp.


Born: 1958 in Chatham, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Few performers in rock history have been as ferociously prolific as Billy Childish. In fact, a complete discography of his work as a solo performer and with his various bands would take up quite a lot of space. A singer, songwriter, artist, poet, critic, fanzine editor, and guitarist who suffers from severe dyslexia, he's a punk-inspired Renaissance man. However, most have never heard of him, or heard one of the over 50 recordings he's made either solo or with one of his many bands (Pop Rivets, the...
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Made with a Passion, Billy Childish
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