Wednesday, July 07, 2004

UNREST - Imperial f.f.r.r. LP
Here's a blast from the past. I was a big fan of this record back in the day (1992) and, having given it a hardy workout on the turntable of late, I'm glad to say it still sounds really - and surprisingly - good. Unrest were Mark Robinson (he of Teen Beat records)'s '80s/'90s post-HC outfit, who started off as a bit of a noisey/jokey fuck-around unit in the mid '80s, put out a couple of fairly worthless LPs on Caroline (Malcom X Park and Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation) in the late '80s (worthless in the sense that they sounded like home-taped bong sessions put to vinyl) before finally finding a voice as a pop band par excellence in the early '90s (and then called it quits at the height of their fame in the mid '90s). I know that several loudmouths dismissed them as being a smug, in-joke load of tossbags at the time (there's a bit of truth to that, too... I mean, who cares - or knows - that they named themselves after a Henry Cow album? Me?!), though with pop hooks as large and overwhelming as the ones featured on Imperial f.f.r.r., as an impressionable 20-year old I figured I'd join the elitist chorus and hail the genius of Unrest as well. I stand by such a claim!
The best track here is "Imperial" on side one, seven and a half minutes of droning pop magic (the bonus 7" I got w/ the LP has an equally good "rock" version): a simple descending guitar line with Mark Robinson's ghostly wail in the background. Fact is, there ain't a dud track here, just lots of tunes so damn nice that friends are often horrified when I play this in their presence. This is admittedly way more lush than most of the low-rent racket I tend to punish myself with, though sometimes it's nice to indulge in tunes without all the extraneous muck. The beauty of Unrest was their unashamed collision of two distinct musical entities: Brit post-punk of the Factory/Rough Trade variety as filtered through the brains of DC hardcore kids.
Unrest released one more LP in '93, Perfect Teeth (an equally good follow-up), which earned them more press and praise before they suddenly hit the brakes and called it a day soon thereafter. Unrest are a band pretty much no one talks about in this day and age, but that's OK. When I'm old and senile you can come and visit me whilst I tell you an old yarn about the criminally neglected musical careers of such greats as Unrest, Die Kreuzen and MX-80. Imperial f.f.r.r. = one of the best albums of the '90s. No fuckin' shit.

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