A Bum Note and a Bead of Sweat

by Ian Kirkaldy


Baboon, a band that have been around for a while, always skirting the fringes of widespread recognition and releasing several albums to a certain degree of critical acclaim. Their live shows are purported to be a vigorous exercise in the heady pursuit of absolution from all that falls before the ritual of an ink stamped admittance. But how would we know? Well, finally, Baboon has been recorded live. Captured into crystal sound via a 16-track recorder at two Texas sweatboxes early last year. The crowd bawl with a feverish expectancy sounding fine and loose on pre-show tonics and/or whatever else they need to do before flashing their IDs. As the show opens a definite and palpable sense of urgency is apparent, a whistle blows, the band kicks off and the crowd are let loose. Baboon headlock and muscle their audience through a slew of jump-cut, punk(ish) compositions that slope and rise in accordance to the rulebook. All present are tapped into the energy of the performance and proceed to lap it up without question. The band continues to run through a preordained selection of their back and current catalogue, knowing all the while that this show is in the bag.

In the mind of the existing fan a positive reception of the album is a certainty, but regardless of my self-proclaimed psychic know-how I cannot see how it would rope in any potential converts, and they are out there in droves. However, it is, after all, a live album and it doesn’t ask to be treated as anything but. If their intention was to provide a document proving their sure-fire capacity to put on a show then they have succeeded. It is all too easy to dismiss, but it’s frustratingly difficult to think of anything to say outside of the obvious. Why? Because you know this album already and you don’t own it. I accept no responsibility for this uninspired and somewhat flimsy piece of reporting the blame resides in another state.

cover art


A Bum Note and a Bead of Sweat

(Last Beat)

In closing: Baboon is a band best sampled live. Baboon often wears masks. Baboon also employs the use of a trombone. Why trombone? Possibly because of a widely held belief that it’s more amusing than the trumpet. No. In a brass horn throw-down the trumpet would surely triumph, you don’t trifle with the trumpet, which in turn would undoubtedly be slapped sideways after it squared off against the mighty kazoo (bless you!), as for the sliding whistle, no approachable competition. Tromboner however, now that’s altogether different. This closing gambit could be righteously ignored with the disclosure of the iron fisted tenable fact that Chuck Norris has an intense dislike for the band. Which, by way of a retarded logic, may persuade you to give it a chance.

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media


"No Dollars in Duende": On Making Uncompromising, Spirited Music

// Sound Affects

"On the elusive yet clearly existential sadness that adds layers and textures to music.

READ the article