It took a pretty special occasion to bring Black Tambourine out of retirement, even temporarily, and the 20th birthday of BT singer Pam Berry’s Chickfactor magazine is definitely such an occasion. When the band were discussing the rather complicated logistics (members scattered across two continents) for the reunion shows, the thought of maybe doing some new recordings came to mind. The band quickly agreed that a tribute to one their favorite bands would be a fun project, and of course Ramones jumped to the top of the list.
After choosing which songs to work on, the band recorded using the same methodology as they did for the bonus tracks on their self-titled 2010 compilation LP. The gentlemen in the band convened in Maryland to lay down the music, the rough mixes were sent to Pam in London so she could add her inimitable vocals, and then the resulting recordings were sent back to Maryland for Archie to mix.
The final result is OneTwoThreeFour, a double 7″ and download EP featuring Black Tambourine’s versions of four of their favorite Ramones tunes. “I Want You Around” kicks off the EP in storming fashion, a whirlwind blur of rushing guitars and frantic drums with Pam’s vocals just riding on top. On “What’s Your Game” Pam is joined on background vocals by The ‘Rinettes, a one-time only virtual meeting of some of the band’s fave singers: Linda Smith, Rose Melberg, Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls and Jenny Robbins from Honeymoon Diary. The ‘Rinettes provide heavenly backing to this soaring, feedback-laced treat of a tune.
The second disc of the EP starts with a crunching version of “I Remember You,” powered by layers of rocking guitars and Archie’s tumbling, mod-ish drumming. It’s all over in a brief 2:15, a succinct blast of pop-art punk. The record wraps up with a lovely version of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Tremelo guitars and gentle feedback carry the tune along, while Pam and Jenny Robbins provide ethereal vocal harmonies. It’s a perfect way to end the EP and a neat summation of what Black Tambourine are all about: melody and noise in equal measure, and above all the songs.
Tracklist: I Want You Around / What’s Your Game / I Remember You / I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
Slumberland Records SLR170