Norwich favourites Das Fenster and the Alibis release their second album this week – Lucky Charms & Firearms – on Halloween (when else?) available on CD, download, to stream on Spotify, and best of all, on glorious vinyl. Order here.
Opening perfectly with the apt Roll Up, this is followed by live favourite, the call and response Down to the Gates of Hell which is in turn followed by the heavily reggae-flavoured and incredibly catchy ear worm that is Run From the Police putting me in mind a bit of Police On My Back. It’s no novelty reggae track either and is one of many album highlights. This one also features some great backing vocals from Emma Ni Raghallaigh.
Perhaps the police caught up with Das Fenster as the next track is the lonely three day diary of Three Days in This Cell with brass from Laurie Arcourt and Chris Dowding before side one closes with On the Day You Die.
Anyone who has seen DF live in recent years will surely know opening track of side two, Jeopardy. This voodoo-tinged recording features the accordion talents of Hugh Stanners. Voodoo also happens on the next track which is pure rockabilly (voodoobilly) with Pearly Gates’ brilliant double bass playing to the fore on Bad Luck, the intro reminded me of King Kurt! Chris Dowding on trumpet guests on Followed By a Shadow which has a film noir feel. Another live favourite is next, the L’Étranger anthem Outside Looking In before this impressive album closes with more voodoo percussion, brass backing and jazzy guitar on King of Voodoo, surely a title in these flatlands that cannot be disputed for Das Fenster himself, joined here by The Angelic Demons Choir who happen to include a number of names who it seems I know very well, reading the back of the album cover.
Das Fenster and the Alibis are a band I love and have seen literally dozens of times since first being introduced to them through Richard Penguin‘s Acoustic & Eclectic nights at Olives many years ago (I think it was just the second DF gig). I loved their darkness, the stories, the sense of theatre and occasion and the terrific musicianship. There have been a few line-up changes along the way but all of those magical ingredients remain in this powerful voodoo spell, and so of course does the Voodoo Shrine itself. Lose yourself among the Lucky Charms and Firearms in these stories of gangsters and hoodlums, ne’er do wells and characters from old black and white movies. Come over to the dark side and join the outsiders looking in, just remember though – you can’t go back … not that you’d want to.
I sure wish we still lived in that world where I could head off to the Walnut and see DF play but in a strange and difficult year this album is a delight to listen to, all the more welcome for the immersive escapism it delivers by the cauldron. The JuJu is strong on this one.
Das Fenster are:
Pearly Gates – double bass
Das Fenster – guitar & vox plus keys & percussion
The Chemist – drums
Donna Matrix – keys, sax
Chris Dowding – trumpet
Laurie Arcourt – sax
Hugh Stanners – accordion
Emma Ni Raghallaigh – backing vocals
“The Angelic Demons Choir”
The album is produced by Paul Finlay, engineered by Jason Wick, with sleeve photos by Martin Figura and Kevin Fry. It is dedicated to the memory of Jim Moore, Judith Hewitt, Rob Powell & King Leo of Redonda,
Lucky Charms and Firearms is released on 31 October 2020. During the hours of Halloween darkness though, obviously. 7:30pm to be precise.
Thanks to Paul Finlay.