Last Train Oslo Presents No Music Requests

Various Artists

Peekaboo, 2004

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/08/2005

Take a small music pub straddling a city's main drag and local university, leave it open for twenty years, and the thought of producing a CD anthology with twenty local bands performing an individual track would normally have all the appeal of drinking flat beer from that same pub's taps.

Move the venue to Oslo, Norway's Last Train pub and the thought becomes remarkably more appealing when you consider the club itself only holds 100 people, serves no food, and has hosted performances by nearly every Scandinavian rock band of any significance during this time. It's truly a rock bar that is serious about its business and considering its credentials, such a tribute project becomes even more interesting.

Fast forward to 2004 when this tiny pub found itself in the throes of celebrating its 20th anniversary (which is no small feat in this day and age) and any European rock fan should really appreciate the anthology the Last Train put out with its No Music Requests offering. Even when considering that this release limits its showcase to 20 Norwegian bands (as a Scandinavian limitation), it still includes widely acclaimed groups such as Turbonegro and Gluecifer in addition to a slate of more regionally visual bands such as 2004's Norwegian Grammy winners, We, as well as Madrugada , the Wonderfools, Amulet, and the Euroboys. Additionally, it's an added bonus for us music collectors to know that No Music Requestsmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 offers previously unreleased material from the majority of the 20 bands represented, despite the pub's Web site declaring otherwise.

As for the music found on the disc, the tracks are quite eclectic, with Amulet brilliantly covering the hardcore punk genre with a track from Bad Brains in "Rock for Light." Similarly, Die Die Die performs a scorching original with "Damage" that borders dangerously close to covering off on death metal. On the other end of the spectrum, the sugary pop anthem from the Time Lodgers, "Here We Go Again" provides the faux-happiness message pop tracks tended to give us back in the 70's with its hybrid, folk-pop effort from the Tables, "Chase the Rainbow," being performed admirably as well. For such a variety of musical genres being represented on No Music Requests, they strangely merry up to one another in smooth fashion.

Where I actually discovered the error in this album being advertised on the Last Train's website as one of nothing but unreleased material, I found that Bonk's "Hello Mummy" is really just the hard rock driver, "Ni Hao Mama" from 2004's Western Soul album packaged under a different title. Small details but I challenge you to find documentation of this small fact elsewhere.

The standout tracks for me on No Music Requests naturally gravitate to the no nonsense rock tracks including the Team Spirit covering Cleveland's Rocket from the Tombs (later, the Dead Boys), "Ain't It Fun," Tubonegro's acerbic rendition of Agent Orange's "Bloodstains," the Wonderfools offering a decidedly upbeat "Closing Time" salvo, Madrugada settling beautifully into a nine-minute rendition of Roky Erikson's "Slip Inside This House" while making me think Michael Stipe is commanding the vocals, We giving a cosmic space rock salute to yet another Roky Erikson cover, "Cold Night for Alligators," and Big Bang showing obvious Neil Young influences in performing their "Carousel" track.

By presenting such a long list of intriguing tracks, I'm trying to point out the fact that No Music Requests has legitimately turned me on to many new bands - both with those artists performing on this disc as well as the bands they choose to cover. In reviewing the actual list of elder statesmen these Norwegian bands choose to tribute, I'm left cast in a relatively somber mood as I feel as if I have been totally remiss in my own past listening patterns. Now, I'll just tell you readers to beware as you'll surely see reviews from many of these bands in the months ahead.

In conclusion, No Music Requests was purchased by me largely as a strange curiosity for not only the Norwegian bands featured, but more for the yield of what the past 20 years actually provided this small rock venue. I sit here today leafing through a splendid 40-page CD jacket looking at live photos of these and other non-Norwegian acts gracing the Last Train's stage during the past 20 years in an excitedly pensive state. For me, I now convincingly know that rock will never die -- it's just the beer you need to watch out for.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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