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Friends

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Album Review

A best-of compilation from the Bolshoi appeared in 1999, but Friends is the real deal. Friends is the group's 1986 debut album, and it summarizes all of the band's strengths. Although not as goth-inflected as the Bolshoi's Giant EP, Friends is still very dark. Trevor Tanner's lyrics unflinchingly relate tales of hypocrisy in "A Way" and "Sunday Morning." In "A Way," a family tries to hide that they once forced their daughter to work as a prostitute: "Money's scarce/But family honor/Brings it home, brings it home/And down the shop, the tongues they snicker," Tanner sings with empathy. "Sunday Morning," like XTC's "Dear God," is a scathing attack on organized religion. However, Tanner's target isn't God; it's going to church. "I remember when I was young/Feeling sick on Sunday morning," Tanner reminisces. While it may seem blasphemous to some, "Sunday Morning" offers a realistic perspective; Tanner sounds like a bitter former altar boy, disillusioned by the façade of innocence of the people around him. Paul Clark's moody, nostalgic piano paints the images described by Tanner's words. "Romeo in Clover" and "Books on the Bonfire" revisit the glum, whirling guitars of the Bolshoi's past, echoing the Psychedelic Furs and Bauhaus. While Friends is far from a perfect record — the Bolshoi were too derivative to make anything that was flawless — it's certainly much sharper than 1987's uneven Lindy's Party or Away...Best of the Bolshoi, the latter featuring an emasculated version of "Sunday Morning." If Friends/Giant, the CD combining Friends with the Giant EP, isn't within reach, this is the Bolshoi LP to get.

Biography

Formed: 1983

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The British band the Bolshoi flirted with gothic rock without succumbing to the genre's limitations. The group formed in 1984 after Trevor Tanner (vocals, guitar) and Jan Kalicki (drums) hitchhiked to Woolwich, England, to find stardom. With the addition of bassist Nick Chown, the Bolshoi opened up for bands such as the Cult, the Lords of the New Church, Wall of Voodoo, and the March Violets. In 1985, the Bolshoi released the EP Giants, and songs like "Happy Boy" and "Fly" defined the group's early...
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Friends, The Bolshoi
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Contemporaries