August 04, 2004

Swamp Children "So Hot"

The history of rock music is full of bands like Swamp Children, good groups with a great deal of potential yet misaligned for one reason or another and never allowed to fully grow to fruition. And so it was that Swamp Children, though being on one of the more unique and prestigious record labels of the 1980s, never received their fair due. True, they did have some moderate successes, but even these were not enough to sustain the young band. And they were young, too! When the band formed, they were all teenagers, and with youth comes youthful enthusiasm and devotion to purpose. The band members were all involved in other projects, from zines to art design and other bands (drummer Martin Moscrop also served in A Certain Ratio), and Swamp Children was the collective realization of six people who loved music, especially jazz-influenced pop. That they were on a label that specialized in music that sounded like nothing being made at the time is no surprise; what was surprising that they sounded like nothing on Factory.

It's no surprise, then, that So Hot was lost to the ages; sunny, upbeat songs like "Sunny Weather," "Samba Zippy" and "Tender Game" were too different, too jazzy, too happy; their mellow South American vibe proved to be nothing short of shocking, especially for Factory. While it's obvious that they had many brilliant ideas in these fleeting moments of their young career, it's also apparent to see why the band has been lost to the ages, a whispered-about group that only a few will ever hear. . It's no surprise that apathy led the band to split, and their later single sides found them delving even further into a jazz-funk-punk blend that sounded really, really good. They were the innovators that nobody ever heard, too weird and too different for their own good (how dare they not be depressing or not imitate Joy Division or New Order--scandal!), yet they were too good to deserve their fate of obscurity. So Hot is the museum piece and a curious snapshot of what could have been.

--Joseph Kyle

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