Friday 6 January 2012

Review: The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate - Time Tunnel (Roxon Records LLC)
The Fifth Estate are undoubtedly best known for their 1967 hit “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead”, which they recorded in five different languages and scored chart success throughout the record-buying world. In 1970 they split to pursue solo projects, but sporadically reform for gigs and the occasional recording project.

Their latest record “Time Tunnel” has been co-produced and mixed by legendary knob-turner Shel Talmy (David Bowie, The Who’s “My Generation”, The Kinks, etc.) and he’s performed a sterling job keeping the band’s garage credentials intact. Often groups of a certain vintage feel the need to smooth away the rough edges, let the studio gadgetry take the strain, and flatten their fervour. Not so with The Fifth Estate, as “Time Tunnel” is as raw and immediate as any recording made by any Nuggets era group, and is all the more refreshing for its urgent, unfussy delivery.

Standout tracks come thick and fast: the title track gets the ball rolling with Rick Engler and Bob Klein supplying choppy guitar chords and the rhythm section of Doug Ferrara (bass) and Ken Evans (drums) holding down the beat – we truly are taken back in time as the quartet revisit 1966, or thereabouts, in some style. “It’s Not Right” borrows it’s theme from late ‘70s new wave, but regrets nothing and “Crazy Little Thing” is the sort of maximum R&B that’s been wowing live audiences since the Stones waded ashore at Eel Pie Island.

Well worth tracking down, whether you’re looking to revisit a particularly fun part of your youth, or a mere whippersnapper eager to find out what all the fuss is about.
Rob F.

The Fifth Estate: Time Tunnel

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