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17 March 2015

Fresh Maggots - 'Hatched' (Sunbeam)

A few years back, amid the resurgence of interest in British folk-rock, came a bunch of reissues  of obscurities and 'lost gems'. Some, such as this, got such a gorgeous and deluxe treatment that it's almost ridiculous, far exceeding any interest in the band when they were actualy around. This Sunbeam reissues takes the lone self-titled Fresh Maggots LP and adds a bunch of additional material, becoming a pretty definitive record of a band that no one remembers anyway. These guys were a duo who were touted a lot in the press as the next big thing (at least in what the liner notes include), if the next big thing was going to be a folk duo that tends more towards fast strummy pop than the type of saccharine Simon & Garfunkel shit that is forever popular. There's definitely that folk duo vibe, as 'Rosemary Hill' apes the 'Sound of Silence' but adds glockenspiel-  a novel touch! The sound is soft folk-pop throughout, though with sometimes-searing electric guitar leads and occasional other instruments. The electric lead over acoustic strum template works well, though I'd struggle to maintain interest all the way through if the proper LP didn't close with 'Frustration', probably their best track. The lyrics are unremarkable la-la-la of their milieu, and there's a genteel Britishness, yet cigarette-stained, as if hinting at something nastier underneath. The third side is only two songs, though thankfully still mastered at 33rpm so I don't have to flip the belt for such middling fare (both songs are mostly just 'la la la's, suggesting that this might be unfinished tracks instead of a single, but the liner notes don't help). The fourth side comes from a radio programme and consists of live-in-studio versions of songs from the album. And with that, it's over; a retreat back into the forgotten corners of music history, cause now this reissue is surely unavailable again until the next cycle. Fresh Maggots isn't a great choice for a band name but I don't think their failure to hit it big is due to this; more likely it's because their sound, while certainly pleasant, lacked any sort of memorable edge or character. At the best moments, the electric guitar lines and the acoustic strum become trance-like, but then they usually start singing again.  They can't even lay claim to being the biggest band ever from Nuneaton (a place I only ever knew from always having to change trains there) because of Eyeless in Gaza, or Elastica's drummer.

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