running time: 77.55
* previously released on Eggman On The Deuce (Action / Reaction Records, 1987)
This collection digitally mastered and restored, 2004.
Soundbites can be heard on the soundpage.
To hear 42nd Street in its entirety, please tune into Aural Innovations Drool Trough show #39
from All Music Guide:
Though singer/guitarist Larry Kirwan is most well known musically for his work leading Black 47, in the '80s he had a different role as the singer for the engaging and quite appropriately named post-punk/dance collective Chill Faction. Another member, Mike Fazio, helped coordinate an anthology of the group's work nearly twenty years after the fact on his Faith Strange label and the resultant Eggman on the Deuce and Other Stories in ways couldn't be better timed. With a worldwide fascination with the early '80s still playing out, hearing the best of Chill Faction's work, with often stark, brutal arrangements turning funk's warmth into a colder but equally powerful kick throughout, helps document a sound's evolution further. That said, a number of the tracks are clearly archival rather than top of the line. The extremely murky sounding demos that start the collection have nervous aggro in spades but Kirwan's nervously yelped but mixed down vocals undercut their impact. (At other points his youthful desperation can verge on the unintentionally comical, as on "The Affairs of the Heart.") The later demos are much clearer on that front -- "Christmas in the Whorehouse" is a clear example -- though sometimes the material drags a bit. But the four tracks that made up the group's original Eggman on the Deuce EP, including an enjoyably angular cover of "I Am the Walrus" which partially explains the title, are stronger affairs, especially with the more prominent work of trombonist Fred Parcells. David Conrad's strong bass introduction to "Don't Fall in the Crack, Jack" is instantly memorable, while "Whenever We're Together" is an underrated mini-classic of romance that shows up the likes of the Killers as flailing badly on that front. Best overall songtitle: "(You Send Me Like So Many) Nuclear Missiles," which has a couple of wonderfully cool keyboard/guitar breaks that are pure glide and grind. - Ned Raggett
from Modern-Dance - The A-Z Music Review Magazine:
New Yorkers Chill Faction refuse to be pigeonholed here. Elements of rock, new wave, experimental and even the inklings of prog rock resound throughout. The singer also has that shouting, higher register reach to his vocals, which reminds me very much of early indie, post-punk bands of the early 1980's. All 5 members of the band are notable players of their various instruments, and there's a good variety here. Chief amongst is the fretless bass, which gets a good airing on many of the tracks. Add in drums and synths and you get a pretty strong bass line. Aside from this, you do get the feeling that it’s the vocals, and more importantly, the lyrics that are of primary concern. They do stand out, although sadly there's no lyric sheet provided. Still, you can always use your own imagination to make out what you think they are saying, as I used to do with the Cocteau Twins! There are plenty of outstanding tracks out of the 15 on offer (and squeezing the CD’s capacity at 77mins, 55 secs). There’s even their rather good interpretation of The Beatles ‘I Am The Walrus’. There’s no faulting the playing on any of these tracks and it’s good to hear a group that just gets on and play the music they enjoy. If you’ve heard of the group, nothing's going to stop you wanting this. For others, see if you can get to listen to a sample before you decide. (Liam)
from The Dutch Progressive Rock Page, 2005, Volume 1:
...And of course I should address the album’s only cover song and the one that gives it at least part of its name. I’ve always thought I Am the Walrus was one of the weirdest songs from any band or any era that I’d ever heard – but, if you share that opinion, you ain’t heard nothin’ till you play Chill Faction’s version a few times. I’m usually deeply skeptical about Beatles covers, but I’m pretty sure I prefer Chill Faction’s version of the song to the original, because it not only takes the weird lyrics and runs with them but also weirds up the music, taking the Beatles’ plod and funkifying it, vocalist Larry Kirwan making the lyrics hug the beat almost as if his voice were another percussion instrument. In this version, the oddness of the song is almost scary.
But odd as it is, I Am the Walrus isn’t the oddest song on this album. This was an inventive and quirky group in its own right, and you’ll get a kick out of many of the lyrics. From Hostage of the Heart: “I call up the White House / But they won’t reverse the charges / They don’t accept phone calls / From unidentified hostages.” And from 42nd Street, whose rhythm and overall ambience remind me a bit of ABC’s Poison Arrow: “I wish I could be sentimental when I think of you / I should have known better than to love you / ‘Cause your plastic heart is melting from the heat / On forty, forty, forty-second street.” These guys are having fun with the words as well as with the music... - Gerald Wandio
from Ampersand etcetera, Volume 7 - Notes 13, 2004:
...And a confounding package it is: NY art punk from the eighties, with rhythmic hints of Kissing The Pink and A Certain Ratio; bass drums guitar synths with all that means like the synth sound on The Affairs Of The Heart, dirty and exotic guitars at various places, rhythms and melodies that drive you along; drones and complexities; and over it all Larry Kirwan's voice that reminded me, at various times, of Pavlov's Dog, Fischer Z, the Cure, The Fall and Tymon Dogg - yes one of those high, emotive individual instruments. Across the album, even though it is a short time, you hear the group develop, adding density and complexity (Parcells' trombone becomes highlighted) and finding their own take on the sound of the time. The version of I Am The Walrus emphasises their punky direction, the stripped back sound of their middle period. The final tracks with string synths, additional production and development are suggestive of some even more interesting directions they could have gone ...but this is fascinating and enjoyable taste of the zeitgeist. - Jeremy Keens
from Expose, Issue No. 31, March 2005:
...Upbeat, tense, and danceable, as was pandemic in the 80's, Chill Faction's muse throws a quirky twist into the fray, with the fretless jazz bass, and (the high point of the CD) Fazio's supersonic fretwork, which manages to send a minimalist new wave Talking Heads form, plunging towards 80's Crimson or Random Hold. The musical backing's squelched, reductionist emotive range (almost requisite in 80's rock, it infiltrated everything from Laurie Anderson to Camel) focuses the spotlight on vocals, wherein is spent the bulk of the tension in CF's songwriting...
1987 wasn't exactly the acme of popular music during my lifetime: even Univers Zero couldn't remain intact, while major labels welcomed only new age or ethnic music to fulfill their quota of creative music. As such, Chill Faction was assuredly fighting an uphilll battle, and it shows in their work, which will be appreciated by fans of that high-quality needle in the haystack of an otherwise lackluster decade in rock music. - Michael Ezzo