Fancy a bit, do you?!

 

 

Al Al Who (2007)

"Blackpool noiseniks de-tune sanity, refuse to button it.
Who are Ceramic Hobs? Allied to the Mad Pride movement of 'survivors of the mental health system', these 'Suppliers of Scotch Mist' are now up to their fourth full album (others include Psychiatric Underground and Straight Outta Rampton). Inside you get Fall-style rockabilly, adeptly played with a meatier sound than of yore, some yucksome Oi! parodies and lashings of ear-shredding tape-noise. Some will find it sick and horrible, but if you think a song called Stick The War On Terror Up Your Arse is laudably succinct, and chanting the phrase 'Freeze dried monkey spunk' to the tune of Oops! Upside Your Head is funny, respect may well be due."
- Ian Harrison, Mojo, 2008

"Inventive gravel throated punk with a top sense of humour, fantastic sampling and brilliant song titles including You Can Stick the War Of Terror Up Your Arse, Bog Wash, All Psychiatrists are Bastards and Puerto Rican Sex Chant. A spirited punky racket that will make you smile and which wears its idiosyncrasies on its sleeve".
- Repeat

"This band is like Muhammad Ali on a skateboard".
- Kyp Highbury

"The genius of Ceramic Hobs. I don’t use the word lightly either . . . they are as utterly uncompromising as ever, regaling us from the off with the collage of Midas Case – a Northern drone-athon supreme with samples smeared over the basic, erm droning . . . Suddenly we have Cup Cakes, a ridiculously catchy paean to cup cakes and other forms of savoury products. It’s classic Ceramic Hobs and we are hooked. Puerto Rican Sex Chant is the usual angry amalgam of samples and monolithic pounding. As if this wasn’t enough we have Explosion in A Dustbin Factory which doggedly pursues the most luddite beat it can muster up and grinds it into our brains with no respite. These three tracks are like sitting next to the angry drunk in a bar in Burnley, who constantly tries to tell you about Newton’s Laws; yes he’s an MA but he’s 6 foot four and has egg stains on his nose which makes you wonder why you were talking to him in the first place . . .
Friend of a Friend is a hapless story of a relationship; akin to a sixties car chase theme whereas Bogwash is a fabulously dreadful racket with a comedy Country-style interlude. Whistling From Above effectively takes the piss out of all Post Punk newbies with a track of utter wantonness. “The caring professions can burn in hell” is also one of the more outré lyrics of the year too . . . and it just doesn’t let up. Wir Kinder is about as basic as you can get; it really does sound like a family row. Following that, Latent Subtext is a suspiciously groovy, but fantastically ramshackle skank-pop song that morphs into Hawkwind with no notice. It’s this ability to keep you guessing right from the word go, that truly shows the Hobs at their best.
This is a long LP, 21 tracks in total, and to try to attempt to describe every track would be exhausting. For brevity’s sake I’m going to pick a few tracks; All Psychiatrists are Bastards, is a fabulous Fall-style rant chronicling the attempt to murder Beatle George . . . whereas Molodynski’s Medical Holocaust is another Luddite stomp that the Hobs excel at.
By far my favourite rant on here is Stick the War on Terror Up Your Arse, which I will certainly be playing at my next disco booking. Flower, by total contrast is a brilliant slab of C86 indie pop. Incredible. Whereas Horrible Old Trout is a classic anti-Thatcher rant. It really could be 1986 again . . . Things come to a suitable conclusion with Six Degrees of Dissociation, a seven minute odyssey of sounds and screams, and samples. It’s tremendous if confusing.

What can I say? I’m worn out".
- Richard Foster, Incendiary

"OK. Ask yourself a question. In this era of heard it all before where something as brain crushingly trite and mundane as Coldplay are lauded, when was the last time you heard an album which gave you that "what the fuck??" moment? An album with no reference points, when you couldn't immediately name 90% of the band's record collections? Well?
So to Al Al Who then, fourth album from the UK's best kept secret Ceramic Hobs. There are few if any reference points here save for a mild nod to The Fall on the genius disturbed Rockabilly of Cup Cakes or the fact that Simon's deadpan vocals sometimes bring to mind the great Robert Lloyd. Basically you are on your own, swimming into the universe of Hobs and it's a thrilling place to visit. Melodies are mangled, sacred cows are slaughtered and ultimately you are reminded that music can be a thrilling, engaging experience. There is a scope to Al Al Who that is missing from so much music in these times.
Impossible here to single out individual tracks as they are all worth repeated listens. At times you will want to jump around like a gibbon on steroids, other times you will want to throw yourself out of the window and at times this album will make you feel scared. Scared as in being alone on the top deck of the last bus when a psychotic drunk climbs the stairs and sits next to you. Ultimately friends, this album has restored my faith in underground UK music and hand on heart this is the 1st truly classic album of the century."
- Biscuit Psychosis

PUMF 567

 

PUMF 511

20 Golden Deathtrips / Golden Hour of the Ceramic Hobs / Celebrating 20 Years of Mental Illness (2005)

"All the singles that the ageing Hobs fan wore out & needs a compilation of, all in one place. What more need be said?"
- Phil Smith

"'Celebrating 20 years of mental illness' says the CD spine and this release does exactly that. Compiled from various limited run 7"s, CDs and flexi-discs but also including some previously unreleased material, here are the Hobs with 20 tracks of sheer unique diversity / perversity. Much of what's on offer here are super-distorted, reverb-fests of undeterminable lyrical content. In This Sore and Broken Blackpool Legacy, for example, about all I can make out is the name 'Richey' screamed over and over again (and, only then, 'cos the sleeve-notes explain that the song is 'some kind of mixed tribute to Ramleh and Richey Edwards'). It's nice to hear old fave Make Mine a Large One, from 2000's 'Free Tim Telsa' CDR EP, again, which I have fond memories of listening to in my shitty attic bedsit at the time. When Jane takes over vocal duties, on Remembrance for Nicole Simpson and Seahorses, the lyrics are more upfront. On these tracks, the cold delivery and harrowing content make for an uncomfortable but strangely beautiful listen. But Ceramic Hobs aren't ALL doom and gloom . . . and top track at HY! Towers has got to be a completely hilarious take on the 'Prisoner Cell Block H' theme! As someone who used to be addicted to that show, this Half Man Half Biscuit-esque rendering brings a lump to my trousers EVERY time! I still have a video of the episode where Joan 'The Freak' Ferguson trips on acid! What a fucking CLASSIC! Nearly as good is the wonderful Blackpool Transport, which starts as a spoken-word account of some Blackpool punks' particular choice of amusement (i.e. cheap booze and solvents) and then descends into a chaos of laugh-out-loud funny samples over a chugging riff. I'm not sure if this CD is meant as a kind of 'best of' but, in classic Hobs style, there are some truly bizarre song choices made here. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who's never heard the band before (any one of the last 3 'proper' albums would be a better starting point) but, for fans, it's a good collection of some of the rarer stuff from years gone by."
- Hiroshima Yeah!, 2005

"The spine of the CD informs us that this offering is “celebrating 20 years of mental illness”. Indeed. Anarcho punks from the mid 80’s is a general sum up of this outfit. Chainsaw sounds, radio and tv samples and swirling, and fractured, disjointed lyrics can be found on the majority of the tracks. I’m reminded of Stiff Little Fingers now again, in particular in some of the vocal delivery. Sadly, I ended up with a headache after listening to this. So, if you are into fractured, grinding punk, then this is definitely for you. Excuse me while I get a Nurofen."
- Liam, Modern Dance

 

Shergar Is Home Safe And Well (2004)

"During my hardcore hometaping / trading days of the early 1990's, I had the pleasure - and misfortune - to be exposed to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of underground artists from all over the globe. Of all these artists, I believe the Ceramic Hobs have progressed the most, and refined their sound to the greatest level imaginable. This is the Hobs' third proper album, after 19 years of demo cassettes and 7-inch EPs, released four years after Straight Outta Rampton which many fans - myself included - had considered their masterpiece. Shergar, however, takes their music one step further, creating an album which achieves classic status beyond their underground roots. This recording easily rivals, and probably outshines, any of the landmark post-punk albums which were so influential to so many of us. Although the songwriting and production value immediately stand out over previous Hobs efforts, the performance itself is the most striking aspect here. This is the band's first release on which the guitars really stand out as being excellent. In addition, Simon Morris' voice has never sounded better - no doubt thanks to years of smoking and shouting out requests for "Ass Destroyer" at Whitehouse concerts, it has developed into a quite superb grittiness ideal for rock vocals. Despite the nostalgic attachment I have for all those early records from the Fall, Gang of Four, etc. - I'd actually rather listen to this disc in their place. Highly recommended."
- Emil Hagstrom, Blastitude, 2004

"This has got to be one of the weirdest albums I have ever listened to and let me tell you I have heard some weird shit over the years. I don’t know much about the band other than I think they are from Blackpool there’s loads of ‘em in the band and they play weird shit. You get 22 tracks of weirdness for your money and I think this will be too weird for even those of you out there with very open minds. The album opens with Knights Move which has the sound of a brass band playing in the background whilst lyrics are spoken/sung over the top, after a couple of minutes an ice cream van plays for a few seconds before going back to the brass band. I had visions of Monty Python and 60’s psychedelia being played by Crass!!! This kind of lunacy continues throughout the album and by the end of its 44 minutes my head was in bits. If this is what the band set out to do ‘Well Done’ and at times this lot out freak the master of all things freaky, ‘Frank Zappa’ A bit like Marmite this, you’ll either love it or hate it, I’m still undecided."
- Punk and Oi in the UK, 2005

"New punk stains of various sounds filter strange fabric flying saucer wisdom
Bogus girders and pylon strings bring tears to my eyes
Judas Lover is like wandering in & out of each other between a stoner & a ghost lady like a 60’s art commune wooden void with scissor snips about the Hobs
Some perfect delirium – the impression that they grow their own fish
First transgression brown sample fuckin’ gouranga spangly jackets flashin’ eyes & all sorts 4-eyed gits sonic fabric head blue meanies
Somewhere off the map – Freudian beauty behind Bovril boy mentality
Sounds like it belongs with playground other
The thing that got Caligula ringing
A bad trip and a Freudian slip
Vomit me across 7 skeletons itself"
- Stream Angel

"Nibbling enthusiastically on a Ceramic Hobs CD released in 2004, the listener may wonder what has developed since from what was once described as a "cross-dressing Blackpool-based survivor punk band" came Straight Outta Rampton a year previously. Not to suggest that the latter was a debut effort -- at the time of this review the group has been active in the United Kingdom for close to two decades. Nonetheless, the 2003 and 2004 recordings have the look of a pair of brothers, that is if said siblings were dressed in smartly printed, color-daubed prints, wrapped head to toe with information that is likeably weird in the way certain friends are. Musically, however, the later effort comes across in some ways as a concerted attempt to sound much more like a band playing rock & roll songs, the back catalog of Ceramic Hobs previously mixing the sounds of said genre with lots of intense noise, and spoken word smidgens especially.
The opening Knights Move has a brilliant structure, evoking an epic feeling that seems much longer than the actual running length of the entire CD which by the by is a good bit shorter than previous releases by the outfit. The ensuing Native American Healing Chant is confusing, considering the band's sardonic stance toward the new agey and spiritual, at least in the way such things come across in such multi-layered, intentionally obtuse material. Is it really a straightforward version of native American music, Jim Pepper gone to Blackpool? Whatever it is, it sounds good: obviously the group is capable of putting such material across with great power. It and the opener are cross referenced again at the end in a kind of snip and chop overture.
New Fleetwood Blues, an intentionally badly recorded country blues parody, is a bit like Captain Beefheart's "China Pig," that is if the shower is running in the room at the same time. It is something of a letdown from Roadkill, just heard and inspiring acknowledgement that this is also developing into a hell of a guitar band. Kaleidoscope Girl ought to be a pop hit, again featuring a superb female vocal. As usual handing out really accurate critical praise becomes difficult when faced with lists of weird pseudonyms, some of them for people who also have a pseudonym for their pseudonym. Safe to Heaven could be one of the best things cooked up on the Ceramic Hobs, featuring the combination of male and females whose voices add great variety to the sung and spoken proceedings. Filtered through creative mixing, some tracks swirl with disorienting pans. At the close of Safe to Heaven, one channel seems to drop out completely, a voice which could be Jane providing ensuing relief to the fear -- or perhaps hope -- that the sound system has blown."

- Eugene Chadbourne, allmusicguide, 2007

PUMF 469

 

PUMF 413

Of the Tin City (2002)

"A ‘Psychiatric Punk Explosion’ . . . Headlining for the first time in the capitol in front of 150 rabid fans (literally) the Hobs rip through 16 of their tip top pop platters and even have time to chuck in bewildering versions of . . . Eve of Destruction and . . . Jet Boy Jet Girl . . . the sound quality is a bit rough . . . but what the fuck we’re not here for Dolby like production values. We’re here to feel what it was like sat at the front row of a Hobs gig with 150 loonies . . . That it succeeds in doing that is a testament to how damned good the Hobs are live. Chaotic, shambolic but always entertaining."
- Mark Wharton, Idwal Fisher, 2002

 

Ultramont! (2002)

"With a whiplash bass line weaving all over the road like a drunk driver at five in the morning, the Ceramic Hobs career into view with another molasses thick stab of Lancashire lunacy . . . A world without the Hobs would be like a world without . . . without . . . lost coins down the back of your sofa . . . the rips in the tops of your milk bottles caused by hungry blue tits . . . First new five [tracks] are like a drive in open top car, the world going by picking up the debris of reworked radio samples and lost voices to the background of that chugging bass and ethereal vocals; Altamont - Birkenau - Masada (Never Surrender) takes you on the longest journey, a fifteen and a half minute drive from Lancaster to the old eastern bloc with the never ending mantra of ‘Never Surrender’ that waspy bass line nagging all the way . . . Neil Young gets the old nostalgia treatment on Country Home . . . Hang around for the hidden Lancashire inventors and you have the best CD this year. I fuck you not."
- Mark Wharton, Idwal Fisher, 2002

PUMF 392

 

PUMF 350 Straight Outta Rampton (2001)

"Extremist out-to-lunch 'comedy' from Blackpool's off-beat acid rockers. Since the dawn of time, musicians have pretended to be insane. How many of them have had the common decency to do it for real? Enter Blackpool's Ceramic Hobs . . . an LSD-flavoured, dog-rough serving of taped voices, splenetic Fall-like instrument abuse and ace one-liners ('largactyl barmy army', 'I am the Mr Big of acid') . . . tracks such as The Gay Skinhead are obviously offensive, but only the stoniest heart could fail to be both amused and impressed by such wide-eyed delerium, even if some of the songs here are, frankly, unlistenable". 
- Ian Harrison, Q magazine, 2002

"Pleasure Beach lunacy combining kung-fu disaster, Stewart Home humour and addled plagiarism means the Hobs' second full-length release in 16 years. 'Gay Skinhead Will Wank You Off' sends the clichéd Chic Freak riff into a new dimension, Paul Calf style ranting about Shao Lin Monks, Tiger Lille falsettos and Jarvis Cocker-esque squints allow the Hobs to take the low-ground with glee".
- Bizarre, 2001

"Straight Outta Rampton comes screaming into the house with a full colour sleeve, full bomb making instructions and pictures of bendy bananas. This will become a stone cold killer classic. It cannot fail. Eighteen tracks of never ending sample madness chopped up and stir-fried into the best CD this year. I've played this to death since I got it. It's to be hoped that the Hobs never recover from what it is they suffer from. The rest of the world look out, the Hobs are coming and they're rather potty."
- Mark Wharton, Just Glittering, 2001

"Ceramic Hobs are unique in the rock 'n' roll field by being completely up-front about their status as users, and their lyrics somehow continually have the shadow of the nearest psychiatric hospital in the background, regardless of what themes they tackle.The sound is basically avant-garde punk, complete with all manner of sounds and effects. Even on the more 'commecial' numbers such as Lone Twister or Red Zone, any radio-friendliness is deliberately undermined by abrasive production techniques. The result is a record that will not appeal to a wide audience, but will be appreciated by those looking for music that is inventive, intelligent and challenging. There's much humour on this album, but Ceramic Hobs are angry as hell . . . simultaneously one of the funniest, but also most furious rock bands imaginable. Redemption for Ceramic Hobs lies in the act of rebellion, and in extremely dark humour."
- Southwark MIND Newsletter, 2001

"Whether this is the Ceramic Hobs' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a matter that fans of the band from Blackpool in the United Kingdom can debate during montage parties. The CD, attractively and cheerily packaged with an almost total lack of actual information about the music, is certainly better than Their Satanic Majesties Request, although maybe not the artwork. Neither totem of rock & roll as high art contains a song as nifty and meaningful as the brilliant The Gay Skinhead with its majestic chorus, "Gay skinheads wank you," blasting at the listener within minutes of the CD starting. According to historic accounts of this band, in which membership shifts and does not seem to always coincide with anyone's actual name, nearly 20 years passed between the formation of the group and the release of Straight Outta Rampton. This is plenty of time to come up with a workable concept, in this case a brilliant combination of noise, found sound, and song elements associated with both rock and in some cases folk-rock. On this set of 18 tracks these elements are used in varied thicknesses, Amateur Cops being an example of the beat and the song coming to the foreground while a hilarious track seeming to originate on a radio call-in show has only minimal musical elements. The spoken segments -- sometimes actually created by the bandmembers and at other times originating elsewhere -- have quite a liberating effect on the music itself, splintering built-in conceptions of verse and chorus and opening the pieces up to more complex structural forms. The pieces are quite political but in a refreshing sense that is never really obvious. Great progress has been made in the way the pieces are mixed: the sound is clean, the voices easy to understand and effects such as the swirling, panning guitar on Shaolin Master are quite appealing. On Klu Klux Kleveleys the mixing is refreshing, vocals and drums set at suspenseful low level despite the obvious implications of the bouncy melody."
- Eugene Chadbourne, allmusicguide, 2007

 

Psychiatric Underground (1998, re-issued 2oo9)

"The music throws itself around from gnarled, distortion-packed & chaotic punk rock to implosive clatter & strum pieces that make room for narrative and suchlike. Delirious and often coming across like a chimp's tea party held in a recording studio, there's a serious screwball aesthetic afoot that's rarely found these days . . . sometimes, the unstoppable blend of bared-teeth psychosis, screaming, noise and dizzy tape snatches make way for songs that, between them sound like Throbbing Gristle . . . or an eco-warrior's campfire protest piece. Altogether, an eclectic dip into the pool where those voices in your head also happen to reside."
- Fourth Dimension, 1998

"The Ceramic Hobs strap you into a dentist's chair and probe your subconscious with a helium-powered Bosch drill. Plundered, noised, fuctup nonsense a-go-go, not always pleasant but then not much is."
- Bizarre, 1999

"An unmissable introduction to a cracked, inspired world".
- Mojo, 2000

"Active in one form or another since the mid '80s, this band from Blackpool in the UK is named after an essential stove part. Thus, Ceramic Hobs sets the stage for the sort of comparisons to cuisine and cooking techniques without which certain music critics might actually starve to death.
Psychiatric Underground is apparently the first CD to have been released by this bunch of weirdos, many of whom are identified in credits with only first names or made-up jokes. These credits likewise hint that this 72-minute epic may have been in the production progress since 1995, unless this reference simply indicates how long the aforementioned list of performers have been involved with the group.
Better sounding as well as better looking efforts by this group followed, nonetheless the first complete CD gives strong indications of the ensemble's talent at combining all manner of noise, including found sounds such as broadcasts, with fairly straightforward rock music. Tracks near the end of the program such as Total Disarmament by June 1st, 1983 and Castrol GTX demonstrate talent at simple protest rock complete with nifty fuzz box riffing.
Elsewhere the samples and spoken word bites are layered deep enough so that two or three listens is equivalent to one. The problem is--to fire up the stove at last--that at this stage the musical elements utilized are simply too repetitive and at times even crude, meaning that these repeated tastings necessary to absorb all the layers of sound will result in a form of musical indigestion. It isn't exactly like getting bored, but it is close. Some of the public domain material used such as the Marilyn Monroe birthday song is a bit too familiar as well.
Highlights include Dick Whittington, Turn Back, sounding like the band has been chained to an airplane and then dragged down a runway. Parrot Night for Captain Morgan and Irreversible Liver Damage demonstrate subtle minimalism and all-out overload respectively, complete with the more complex structures that make later Ceramic Hobs releases so fine."

- Eugene Chadbourne, allmusicguide, 2007

PUMF 322

 

Bring on the Coincidancing Horses

Orange Sunshine (1996)

A recording project between Simon & Syd of the original (1985-88) Ceramic Hobs.

"The whimsy that drew me into the Hobs world. Back on the plate currently (2006) with the advent of Hobs semi-acoustic sets. Balding men set the pace (but not here, like)."
- Phil Smith

PUMF 266

 

PUMF 252 Top Buzz (1995)

The ultimate collection of rave anthems - direct from Ibiza

"The birth of the modern Hobs, with The Gay Skinhead shining out in its first, tentative incarnation. Many are the folk who have thought it was conceived by sometime-Radio One DJ Mikee B & his Top Buzz outfit & were all ready to break out the Vaporub before I schooled them. Possible Love Da Capo influence in the album's balance of tracks?"
- Phil Smith

 

Nihilistik Subkultures shall Thrive upon these Deathly Visions (1993)

(release pseudonym: Salty Grouse Castration Squad)

"Having escaped the Blackpool nuthouse . . . finds an atomic clock and finds he can't handle his beer even in his own shaven haven . . .unspeakable pleasure turns to unspeakable pain . . . this is what happens when you spend too much time with people with Sid Vicious tattoos. 'Tie your grandmother to the bed and force her to listen to this'."
- Kill Every One Now, 1994

PUMF 203

You don’t need a Pickaxe to collect Ghoul Soil (1995)

(release pseudonym: Blood Klat (in Spume Bummer))

"The best of the really loose Hobs sets? Well worth any measly amount pStan is likely to ask for it."
- Phil Smith

PUMF 238

 

For less information, or at least for not much more information, you could visit the official Ceramic Hobs website at: http://www.livejournal.com/~ceramichobs

 

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