The offspring of established music legends must have a rough time. No matter what they do, they’re always going to be cross-referenced with their parents. With this in mind, we might as well get the comparisons out of the way at the beginning. Baxter Dury has made a record that sounds nothing like anything his old man Ian might have put out. Well almost nothing. There’s the spoken word of album highlight Cocaine Man and a way with lyrics and characterisation that Ian would be proud of.
However, while Ian and the Blockheads plundered dancehall, rock and roll, funk and jazz to create something that was referred to as punk in some circles, Baxter has taken an entirely different approach.
Floorshow is almost impossible to describe in terms of genre. With the help of Spiritualized types Mike Moody and Elizabeth Frazer it’s an album that drifts out of your speakers in a stoned fug. It’s a far more subtle experience than you might expect from a man descended from a fella who bellowed that intro to Plaistow Patricia. Tracks like Lisa Said are delivered with a detached vocal that is granted a kind of gravitas by the swell of guitars growing behind it.
Waiting For Surprises pulls the same trick, steeped in atmospherics and with an almost apathetic vocal line, it lulls the listener before Young Gods repeats the formula. By the time a drumbeat that recalls the Velvet Underground‘s I’m Waiting For The Man opens up Sister Sister, you feel like you’re cocooned in cotton wool. You’re so comfortable, that you almost miss the allusions to David Bowie‘s Heroes.
It’s not all nodded out bliss of course, there’s some other high points too. Cages proves that Baxter’s not entirely against rocking out, whilst Francesca’s Party takes Bob Dylan record shopping in a store that only sells Pavement singles.
The real stand out track is the wonderful Cocaine Man. Drawled in a not altogether unfamiliar London accent, it’s a superb character study. It’s the kind of thing that Damon Albarn would have ruined had he mockneyed his way all over it.
Slightly seedy, totally dreamy, Floorshow can have you trying to catch smoke at times. When you can relax and let it all drift over you, Floorshow is an album that you can get completely lost in.