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Shplang Stay True John Robinson listens to Shlang's Thank You, Valued Customer

Shplang Stay True

John Robinson listens to Shlang's Thank You, Valued Customer

by John Robinson,
first published: November, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

...influenced by Ken Nordine?

LP CoverSHPLANG
Thank You, Valued Customer
(Big Stir Records)
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Shplang are a psych rock band who have been operating since the mid nineties, led by Peter Marston and John Krause. Marston had previously been a member of The Corsairs, and Krause had worked as a designer on the Simpsons, giving them at once a psychedelic, XTX/Robyn Hitchcock sound and a sense of humour.

Despite their longevity it's their career retrospective Los Grandes Excritos 1994 to 2019 that only recently brought them to attention. This set - named sarcastically for our reliance on the commerce that relies on our obeisance: opens with Keep It Hot: a hymn to the need that humanity has for the sex drive in order to survive. A prog rock bridge is sandwiched with a warped take on a blues riff, a collision of styles which persists through the album. Understood, which follows, is a overwhelmingly cheerful track with a horn arrangement by Lee Thornburg, cheerful being anathema to my cynical self. Look Me Over runs very close - too close - to being an Oasis pastiche, but Das Diddley, a daft - filthy - song in German, has me more back on side. Everyone Can Change has the right, woozy, drifting feel and a psychedelic outro that works perfectly. Baby Hobo is a dream made-up and retold with a faux-jazz-cool voiceover and effects, a grinding riff.

Lay A Little Love On Me - the perfect blend of 1970s wig out and lyrics just the right side of Edward Lear

Lay A Little Love On Me is the highlight of the album, having the perfect blend of 1970s wig out and lyrics just the right side of Edward Lear, nearest to the Dukes of Stratosphear that is being aimed for. Buddha seems to open like The Lone Ranger and ploughs on with semi-mystical outbursts about religious texts, pointing out for me how ridiculous they are. I'm not sure reducing Buddha to "a fat chap" is going to go over that well with his adherents, but highlights that Simpsons influence.

Á Son Son is in French (!) and a groovy track about staying true to your sound, with a cool instrumental break. Little Mushroom Men From Mars is pleasingly heavy and prog laden, boasting great guitar work from Scott Goldbaum. The album closes with a love song to a shop girl the singer was attracted to back in the day. The overly eloquent spoken lyrics are influenced by Ken Nordine, to my ears there's a little bit of Viv Stanshall to the ludicrous nature of what is actually being said. Overall, a cool set with some very worthwhile experimentation going on.

Not everything lands, but it all takes off, at least, and it's a must listen for any fans of psych pop. 

John Robinson

Based in Scunthorpe, England. A writer and reviewer, working as a Computer Science and Media Lecturer and Educator. Sometimes accused of being a music writer called John Robinson, which is not helped by being a music writer called John Robinson. @thranjax
about John Robinson »»

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