AXEMEN, THE: Derry Legend: LP

May 20, 2014

Derry Legend was originally released by Flying Nun in 1989. Hard to find even in New Zealand, Luxury Products stepped up with a great reissue. The label went with a faithful reproduction of the original Derry Legend sleeve and threw in a nice, two-page newsprint insert with photos, reviews of the album from the Flying Nun release (incidentally, mostly scathing), handwritten notes from the period, and show flyers. No corners were cut; this was a costly reissue (more of a reason to pick it up). Derry Legend is slightly more focused than The Axemen’s vinyl debut Three Virgins—and that’s likely attributable to Dragan Stojanovic’s presence on Derry Legend (Dragan’s a great guitarist) and access to The Skeptics’ sixteen-track studio. Nevertheless, The Axemen still sound like The Axemen. Shambolic punk rock (“Disc to Disk”), rapping (“The Tragic Tale...”) and stabs at girl-group harmonizing (“Hey Alice!”) are all present on Derry Legend. Steve McCabe’s catchy “Wharf with No Name,” conceivably a New Zealand radio hit, is on Derry Legend (check YouTube for the accompanying music video—yeah, that’s Celia Mancini miming background vocals). Like The Swell Maps, you either get The Axemen or you don’t. They were championed by some (notably The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour and Siltbreeze’s Tom Lax) and maligned by others (NZ’s music press—granted, that’s not saying much. Just read their pitiful reviews on the album’s insert.). For the uninitiated, Derry Legend or Peter Wang Pud, are great starting points. Derry Legend is my favorite Axemen record and that’s saying something: I put out their last full-length album! Highly recommended.   –ryan (Luxury Products, luxuryproductsusa.com)

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