review archive

The Seeds – Borderline 31st March 2004

It’s 1988 and Kitten is expanding her musical horizons beyond the fizzing indie faves du jour. Thanks to the likes of Bobby Gillespie (he always did talk good record) the Kitten Kollection is starting to swell with a selection of exotic sixties stuff. The latest addition is a Seeds compilation ‘Fallin’ Off The Edge’. It’s perfect, exactly the sound Kitten always thought should be ripping up the room as the oil-wheel swirled and the psyche-out kids shook their hair and lost their minds in the tripped out ‘60s scene of her imagination. Singer Sky Saxon has an odd child-like whine - the perfect topping to the frantic freakbeat being whipped up by The Seeds’ heavily fuzzed guitars and deranged keyboard hammering. On the sleeve the band have perfect bobhead bowlcuts, pointy boots and stripey trousers – the epitome of cool in Kitten’s 1988 world (actually it still is now). Could this be the perfect band? Hmmm…

So here we are in 2004 and The Seeds are playing at The Borderline, which is small enough and shabby enough for me to feel comfortable with revisiting the past. Ever since I got my ticket I’ve been getting the line about ‘Sky Saxon solo albums' from 'On Tape' by The Pooh Sticks running through my mind, which is obviously quite disturbing in itself. It’s always a bit dodgy when bands try to return to former glories, and I’m a bit concerned that this is going to be an appalling shambles. It isn’t really the proper Seeds playing, only Sky Saxon (oh that name, even better when he changed it to Sky Sunlight Saxon) remains, having reformed with a gaggle of pseudo-Seeds.

The Borderline fills up with a curious mix of old biker dudes, eternal psychedelic types, European mods, balding men in their work clothes, the odd face from Kitten’s garage scene youth, the obligatory Rob 14 Icey and otherwise sane-looking types who proceed to sing along to every word once the band gets going. There’s a friendly, anticipatory atmosphere, as folks start wiggling to the top garage tunes revving from the P.A. (and bloody ‘Psychotic Reaction’ again, one day I’ll go to a gig where this doesn’t get played).
Psychedelic grandfather The Seeds amble on. Blimey, check out Sky Saxon – a jumble pile of hippy scarves, silky combat trousers, studded belt, woolly hat and wraparound shades, not quite the booted up hipster of those old record sleeves, but definitely a psychedelic grandfather. Apparently he’s clocked up time in his own drug-addled, pan-handling wilderness, a la Roky Erikson, but he seems on pretty good form now. The major disappointment is that the trademark nasal yowl has gone, replaced by a gruff grumble, which I suppose is only to be expected. Still, it’s not quite the same without that freaky wail, especially on ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ whose genius is built around this odd vocal creak. When it gets played tonight, Sky Saxon rumbling his way through the words, it’s like there’s an old friend missing from the party.
But that’s just being picky, we get a fantastic classic Seeds set, ‘Nobody Spoil My Fun’, ‘No Escape’, ‘Wind Blows Your Hair’ and of course their bone fide HIT ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’. They play a few ‘new songs’, usually a concept that strikes fear into the heart of even the most die-hard of fans, but these turn out to be excellent, not straying from the blueprint of pummelling guitar fuzz, crazed Farfisa snortings and ‘Na na na na’ backing vocals. The band know their Seedy stuff alright, giving the songs a good pasting, rattling them out lustily as Sky Saxon wibbles around the tiny stage, gradually shedding his hat and shades. The highlight is old fave ‘Evil Hoodoo’ which whips up a heavy cyclone of stomping sound that makes me shiver with excitement. Oh garage so-called bands of today you might as well sod off home, you aren’t going to top this with your weedy sub-Stooges riffs. No really, you aren’t. Tremble before the might of the Saxon tambourine
Fallin' off the edge

Back for an encore, Mr Saxon decides he wants some female company onstage. Five intrepid girls, including two from Velvet Illusion (fab Aladdin’s cave of ginchy sixties gear in Camden), clamber aboard to shake their thang to ‘Girl I Want You’. Sky Saxon appears to be providing a literal interpretation of the lyrics, grabbing at on of the V.I. ladies in a rather queasy pervy old man way. Groo. Like a friend says when I tell her about this unpleasantness, ‘That’ll be the sixties hangover.’ Proceedings are pulled back to a dignified close with a galloping version of ‘Tripmaker’ though sadly it’s minus the fantastic wheezing ‘wheeeee!’ noise of the original that had the youthful Kitten rolling on the floor with gleeful hilarity when she first heard it. Tonight has been a curious excursion into the past, but I’m glad I came. The Seeds aren’t the perfect band, but they’ve got some songs that are damn near close to buzzing sonic heaven.

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