REVIEW: CMAFA - "In Search of Elvis"

By J. 'Hirez' H-R

Chain Border

In Search of ElvisThe biggest surprise about this CD is the fact it was recorded at all. It was long held to be far too close to the truth that the various members of Captain Matt's Armada featuring Axel (where Trevor writes all the songs and does all the work) introducing Insatiabelle (CMAFA from now on, to save my fingers and your patience) would have set about each other with whatever was to hand, rather than complete a studio recording. Past attempts to record even singles have all ended in disturbing violence, malfeasance suits from enraged studio owners and demands for compensation and threats of punitive damages from the engineers and producers. Thus, the only documentary evidence of the unlikely majesty of CMA 'performances' have been scrappy bootlegs that were circulated by the faithful through small ads in the back of hard-to-find punk 'zines.

So quite how this recording managed to get pressed up and distributed should probably remain a mystery so as to save those involved from unneccesary involvement with the authorities. Some might be minded to consider that age and an enforced layoff from performing, through each member living on a different landmass, might have mellowed the band. Not so. What we have here is the sound of CMAFA tearing through a set of favorites - evenly distributed between solid crowd-pleasers from their own back-catalogue and a set of stand-out covers rendered in their own thankfully inimitable style - in the back room of a presumably less-than-salubrious bar in downtown Toronto.

The entire performance is in a louche, rockabilly (A lot like the Meteors or the Cramps, with tinges of Monomen and the Mummies) style, which is a bit of a change from the furious 'let's see who can get to the end of the song fastest or before a fight breaks out on stage' CMAFA that some of us remember. Maybe there's something about playing in Canada that brings out the latent surf-punk in the band. What on earth is it with Canada? Both (the late, in the most unfortunate sense of the word) Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and the (hopefully still extant) Vampire Beach Babes kick it large, but in a strangely .ca style that you'd have thought would be more at home is Colo(u)r me confused, daddio.

Anyway. CMA. Punker'n fuck (tm): Drums from the Nick Knox 'Don't get no better'n this' school of rockabilly psychosis, guitar that should only be played on a Gretsch hollow-body by someone who's style icon is Billy Zoom, vox after John Lydon and Lux Interior and (strangely inaudible) bass played by someone never seen without a big hat and 50's-retro shades. Even when he's driving his black Buick leadsled.

Tunes? Cannibal Corsets From Outer Space ought to be as much a moshpit anthem as Horatii's Body of the Fish or Island of Zombie Women. (A 3D-Invisibles cover, fact-fans. And they're playing out again. Some mad bugger put them on the bill of a deathrock gig and make them famous, please.) Boneshaker Baby idles along like a 440 Hemi with lumpy cams, while Gland Ho! runs the quarter-mile like a righteously sorted gasser. Secret Agent Man frags the trans on the start-line, however.

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