Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

World Domination Enterprises
Let's Play Domination

Released 1988 on Product Inc.
Reviewed by gordon xx, 24/02/2002ce

Begin with a manifesto and you set the tone. I got a message for you people; defiant and tantalizing. Let’s go boys – we’re on a mission. Dub bass, angular drums, slabs of white noise guitar. Throw in some funky rhythms, and the message becomes clear. This is not a sound to pander to fashion. It’s a way of life, defiant of the mainstream. It’s not about escapism from the shit, it’s about getting stuck in and living your life anyway. Balance- sure there’s drug references, but this isn’t about celebrating a pharmaceutically-induced consciousness. We’re not spending our lives sitting in a studio, getting high, searching for those perfect layers of feedback which will take us to enlightenment. Nobody’s taking this trip too seriously. I blew the money and I could’ve bought drugs with it. The real world is toxic enough. ‘It won’t be us because we’re the small ones.’ Asbestos Lead Asbestos. The poisons of the title represent all the bad trips that our society chooses not to protect us from. It’s not about answers; it’s just the way things are. Classic dub bass intro. Getting into a laid-back groove, suddenly there’s a sound like someone putting a window through, and you realise that the guitar has come in. Over the next two and a half minutes, Keith covers housing, education, violence, crime, social security, health. Issues - political issues - on which we have been so badly let down by the politicians. Thatcher’s just won a third term and we’re the losers. Let’s play domination.

The characters woven into these songs are typical of the subculture painted by the music. People with colour, life and frayed edges. Their ghosts may be at the sharp end of political exploitation, but getting stamped on isn’t even an option. Queen of the ghetto, the Ghetto Queen. Hotsy Girl, Ragamuffin Man and Bullit Man all stalking their own collages. Catalogue Clothes. Even the alchemic version of Funky Town struts enough stuff to make the favelas sound like carnival. Keith would be there in the thick of things, constantly appearing in his fading ‘Conquering Lion Of Judah’ t-shirt; there would be Rasta, U-Roy, Prince Jazzbo - the sound of Jamaica and the inner cities.

Late 1987; and My Bloody Valentine have released their jangle-pop classic ‘Strawberry Wine’. By mid ‘88 they’ve reinvented themselves as the front-runners of British noise bands. The Brits have introduced the sonic assault to their armoury, picking up the Mary Chain’s baton and drawing heavily from what the likes of Sonic Youth and Husker Du had been blueprinting in the US. But World Dom were a step ahead, and a step apart. Whereas the House of Love traced their feedback genealogy back to The Only Ones and the Velvet Underground, bands such as WDE were taking a different route. They brewed a more universal potion, extending the hybrid invention of PiL and The Slits and embracing dub reggae and hip-hop. Label-mates with Swans and Young Gods, they were always conveniently lumped in as an industrial band, but their sound never sat comfortably along with Neubaten or Skinny Puppy – they played guitar / bass / drums, and they seemed to have more in common with peers such as Silverfish or Terminal Cheesecake. They were aware of their musical and social roots, and they knew how to make distorted guitars sound like a hurricane. Breakneck rock’n’rollers – ‘Look Out Jack’ - have the drums thundering all over the place, and ‘St Etienne’ has its French lyrics spat out at full throttle.

The cover of ‘I Can’t Live Without My Radio’ is a masterstroke. The sentiment fits seamlessly onto the tracklisting. It’s a bold take on the LL Cool J classic, with Keith becoming Kool K, his ranting vocal style complementing the swagger of the original rap, sticking two fingers up at the moral guardians of society. Despite (because of?) the use of a beat-box instead of drums for a rare appearance on the record, this performance is so strong and fluent that you wonder why so many others even bother with their lame attempts at the posturing of rock / rap MTV crossovers. With WorldDom it’s all there already; there’s no cynical manipulation or trendy references. Just plenty of reminders that WDE bring essentially their own fiery brand of punk rock.

It’s a burning mish-mash of a sound, and it’s brewed up in a hell of a cauldron.

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