Wednesday, May 25, 2011

THE INDELICATES "David Koresh Superstar"

“David Koresh Superstar” is the third album from Sussex's The Indelicates released last week on their own label Corporate Records. Not having heard their first two records, I’m endeared to the band simply by their label “a new kind of record company that you can sign to anytime it suits you. You own everything, we own nothing. Take control, we're here for you to exploit”. Things only get better when I discover that “David Koresh Superstar” is a fifteen-song rock opera about the life and times of cult leader Koresh from his early years in Houston to the fateful siege in 1993 in Waco, Texas with the Branch Davidian sect (if you are unfamiliar with this event, the band have provided a handy pictorial guide). And things really get better when I listen to the album.

“David Koresh Superstar” is a compelling musical tale, recounted through outlaw country story-telling and art-rock polemic, giving voice to each of the key protagonists in this tragic tale. Koresh tells of his early life (“my father was a carpenter, my mother was just fourteen”) and embracing the church in the strummed country-hick lilt of ‘The Road From Houston to Waco’. He proclaims his divinity in the rock swagger of ‘I Am Koresh’ (letting slip his dubious practises along the way: “come to thy God’s caress / with my hand inside in your dress”) and then voices his doubt over bowed saw in the quieter ‘What If You’re Wrong’. A woman (wife? Follower?) sings of falling under the spell of Koresh in the piano ballad ‘The Woman Clothed With The Sun’ and then pledges herself to the sect’s cause in the gentle skiffle of ‘A Single Thrown Grenade’. The Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms whose botched serving of a search warrant started the siege sing of their need to prove their worth in a changing world (“I miss the Russians, I miss Vietnam”) as a massed chorus in ‘The Ballad of the ATF’ (a highlight) and even Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma bomber (“God you people make me sick”) gets a song.

Unlike the formulaic stage musical this record never becomes cheesy or repetitive or lapses into trite pastiche. It’s ambitious and clever, darkly humorous and theatrical, and deeply, deeply inventive. The fact that Simon and Julia Indelicate met at a poetry slam and their combined background includes documentary photography, book-writing and performance poetry (“Too schooled for cool” as an Indelicates T-shirt proclaims) gives you flavour of what they bring to this project.

The first half is stronger musically and more creative; the siege and its aftermath are more downcast and drawn out. But the chilling piano-and-violin Biblical thump of final song ‘John The Revelator’ reminds you of the power of The Indelicates to turn a ridiculous proposition into a triumph. “David Koresh Superstar” has many virtues – not the least a clutch of fine, intelligent songs – but its real success is in humanising the flawed Koresh and his cause, dramatising each sad stage of his history as it moves towards its inevitable tragic end. In a 65 minute (art-)rock record “David Koresh Superstar” tells you more about the Waco siege and its participants than wading through contemporary newspaper coverage, investigative studies or TV documentaries ever could. Less a review, more an instruction to buy forthwith.

Something Goin' Down In Waco - The Indelicates

The Indelicates David Koresh Superstar [BUY]

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