This dropped on my desk a couple of months ago and I really wasn’t expecting much of it. It’s from a period of music that wasn’t great in my opinion and from an artist I admit I’d heard nothing of previously. And so it stayed in its protective covering for longer than it really should. In a fit of not being able to find a CD I wanted to play in the car I grabbed this and was rather pleased I did.

PAUL ROLAND opium den WEB

This is a collection of three albums of Roland’s (Danse Macabre, Burnt Orchids, The Werewolf Of London) singles and EPs and then a couple of out takes from an unreleased second album.

There’s a touch of the steam-punk throughout this collection in the lyrics that draw from Victoriana and horror fiction (think Edgar Allen Poe) that could only come from the mind of an English singer songwriter. Look at some of the titles to see what I’m getting at here: The Great Edwardian Air-Raid, Burnt Orchids, Blades Of Battenburg, The Old Dark House and Go Down You Murderers. See what I mean? It’s hardly the stuff of bubblegum pop is it!

Musically too, In The Opium Den is sombre and dark (in a good way) and it’s no surprise that his music was a favourite at the legendary Goth club, The Batcave. I’m often reminded when listening to this collection of Robert Calvert’s solo output and again this is a very good thing. Brain Police is is particularly Bob Calvert in style to my mind…with a touch of Kraftwerk thrown in for good measure.

There’s not a bad tune on here despite it not being particularly mainstream fodder and I consider it a bit of a gem that I’m very pleased to have uncovered. It’s not going to appeal to everyone that’s for sure, but if you enjoy quirky, English pop/rock then this could well be right up your street, there’s a fab’ version of Floyds Matilda Mother which should give you an idea of what’s in store.

Highly Recommended!

Stuart Smith

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