by Freek Kinkelaar
ED NOTE: This article is an except from the book Wondersound, available at http://kormplastics.nl/wondersound.html . From the author's introduction to the book:
"I have been writing lyrics, or rather, short stories, for my own songs for over forty years. The process of shaping these wonderings into lyrics is a magical one, which I dearly love. As is writing reviews, articles, liner notes and essays for various national and international publications. A selection of which, as well as some new and previously unpublished ones, find their home in this book. That's over thirty years of writing about being amazed, challenged, bedazzled and caressed by sound. Wondersound is about all those chance meetings where sound and wonder somehow add up to something miraculous. And, in my mother tongue, 'wonder' means 'miracle'. Isn't that just perfect?"
I first met the Princess in a bargain bin sometime in the mid-1980's, when she struck my attention with the cover sleeve of her 12-inch single, "Sloblands" (1984). The record, massively reduced in price, attracted enough attention to make a purchase. For those not in the know, "Sloblands" pictures head-Princess Daniel Figgis naked, hugging a pillow. His 'crown jewels' covered by a strategically-placed sticker which, interestingly enough, at home, proved unremovable.
Princess Tinymeat turned out to be a four piece led by Figgis, a former child actor on television and stage who had been active in Dublin's punk scene of the late 1970's. He joined The Virgin Prunes, playing drums and contributing keyboards, under his new moniker Haa Lacka Binttii, on their first two singles and two instrumental tracks ("Red Nettle" and "Third Secret," which also happen to be my personal Prunes favourites). He was unceremoniously kicked out of the band in 1981.
Figgis formed Princess Tinymeat, a name in reference to actor Montgomery Clift's alleged penis size, three years later with the core members of Tom Rice on guitar, Ian SissyBox on bass and C. Zappa on drums. Releasing about half an hour's worth of music in the band's two year stint may not sound impressive, but it was a case of quality over quantity.
Herstory (Rough Trade, 1987), a title playing on Binttii's gender-bending image, fittingly compiles the band entire output of three singles and two compilation tracks. "Sloblands," which was the band's debut, sees Binttii declaring, in his signature childlike voice, 'Don't you see, bear with me, I'm a moody mystery.' Backed by a cavernous, industrial suite not dissimilar to the works of Coil during the same era, it was a surprise entry in the indie charts at number 42. The industrial-pop of the single "A Bun In The Oven" was followed by "Angels In Pain," which embodies a curious outback version of blistering new wave. Two additional tracks were released on the 1986 compilation You Bet We've Got Something Against You; the disturbing instrumental "Lucky Bag" and the sheer insane "Jay Gone Bimbo."
What the album unfortunately does not capture are the band's amazing live performances and television appearances, such as the one on The Late Late Show where they unleashed a screeching version of "A Bun In The Oven," sounding nothing like the original, in front of a confused middle-aged audience.
And that, as they say, was that. Figgis would move on and find his calling as composer, multimedia producer and curator. He released the highly enjoyable album Skipper, a compilation of instrumental works in 1995. But the imminent danger and menace of Princess Tinymeat is something special. Those 30 minutes, as compiled in Herstory also qualify as my favourite compilation album, because of its natural, unchronological, flow creating a journey of its own, rather than a compilation of various singles.
Also see Freek Kinkelaar's website at http://www.freekkinkelaar.nl
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