Vox, June 1992
The Ultraconformist Richmond
Subtitled 'Live Whilst Out Of Fashion', this obtuse release from Camp Currie was to have been called 'Live At The Cockney Cabaret' but the canned applause which punctuates each track betrays a knavish deceit. In fact it's a one-off set of original compositions for Mike Alway's Richmond label.
The material follows the Tender Pervert's usual blueprint of Weillesque bar-room barrel organ wheezes, centred around dubious sexual behaviour, gender deceit, lust and jealousy. Should tide fans over until the official Momus release, Voyager, next month. (6)
Select, June 1992
Apparently this album "was made in front of a cabaret audience at The Cave Of The Golden Calf, Heddon Street, London on or about December l910'. Attempts to conjure the ambience of the legendary pre-war bohemian meeting place are provided by a dubbed audience...you know the sort of thing. Any more informative nuggets are conspicuously absent.
To say that Momus is an enigma is something of an understatement. Frequently disappearing down some new idiosyncratic path, his songs have always been narrative affairs, ranging from witty pastiche to embarrassing prose to the neo-Music Hall of 'The Ultraconformist' .
'Sinister Themes' and 'The Cap And Stick Gang' are vignettes of Dickensian grotesquerie set to Weill-style oompah cabaret music, very self conscious but droll nonetheless. Too many of the songs are packed with contrived wordiness, and, taken as a whole, the effect is dense and overbearing.
As a wordsmith and raconteur Momus has his moments, but the nagging image of him as an indie Richard Stilgoe just won't go away.
NME, August 1992
LUSTS OF A MORON - The Lyrics of Momus
Momus (Black Spring Press £12.99)
HERE IS a suitably bold and uncompromising artefact to consolidate Nick Currie's reputation as self-appointed poet-spokesman for North London's bohemian netherworld. A decade of lyrics in two dozen random typefaces, all spilling promiscuously across wide white sheets of virgin paper and soiling them forever. No background, no biography, with only the odd picture of some slightly suggestive flowers for illustration.
There is progression here, with 1982's bittersweet love poetry quickly fleshing out into morally-ambivalent Euro-drama and allusion-laden wordplay. The weighty historical and religious trappings of 1986's 'Circus Maximus' make heavy reading, but just a year later "all I dream about these days is sex with strangers". Kinky couplings and their resulting emotional knots become his consuming obsession.
For half a decade Momus trawls through seedy suburbs and becomes "Marquis of Sadness... leading light of the Bitterati". Equal parts Maoist, masochist and misogynist, he is splendidly two-faced in 'The Homosexual' and sneakily quotes Mick Jagger on 'Hairstyle of the Devil', the best sexual jealousy song ever written. By 1992, however, our jaded libertine is traversing the endless void of space and Siberia's arctic wasteland, seemingly above carnal concerns.
The haughty arrogance of this anthology - even Lou Reed provided footnotes and interviews for his collection - is almost its downfall. But being gorgeously packaged and well-crafted enough to repay close attention, Currie's elegant musings will doubtless find themselves spreadeagled across coffee tables in select salons.