“Staring at the Sun” b/w ”Cherry Red” is the new JAMES ARTHUR’S MANHUNT single on Spacecase. Coming off his recent 12XU LP, Arthur (FIREWORKS, REATARDS, NECESSARY EVILS, CC RIDERS, etc.) went back into the studio with maven producer STUART SIKES (LORETTA LYNN, THE BOX TOPS) and recorded two covers—Angry Samoans’ “Staring at the Sun” and The Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red.” Limited to 300 copies on black vinyl.
When James Arthur's album of last year, Digital Clubbing, came out I was pretty dang excited to hear it. As a fan of the type of noise James has made since first hearing the Fireworks back in the mid-90's and dug everything he has been a part of since, along fact that it had been over five years since anything, you could even go as far as saying I was chomping at the bit for new music from him. And when my ears landed on the record, they were not disappointed in the least.
Then I started thinking "Is the world going to have to wait ANOTHER five years to hear more new stuff from him?" As of this moment with the release of this new single though, that seems to not be the case.
Under the knob twiddling of Stuart Sikes, who's CV includes working as the engineer on albums ranging from Loretta Lynn, The Polyphonic Spree and the Promise Ring to the Reigning Sound, the Sword and Cat Power, James and his Manhunters blast their sonic power to higher highs and crank out two unobvious covers.
On one side, there's the Angry Samoans "Staring At The Sun." Originally appearing on an album that confused to flat out pissed punk rockers when it came out for sounding, well...a bit more "mature" than the ones before it, STP Not LSD, the song was the psychedelic jam on that record. With guitar twang specializing in slasher flick splatter, a rhythm section adept in beat downs, creepy echo'd vocals and notions of riding a rocket straight into the middle of the huge flaming orange ball, it's downright disturbing take of the song that may even get me to bust out the original and reassess my opinion on it. I mean, it's been at least 25 years since I last listened to it.
The flip finds a take on "Cherry Red" by the Groundhogs. Always a bunch more weird, off and interesting on their approach than their Brit blues rock peers of their time, covering a Groundhogs song actually makes sense for James, even if most wouldn't ever think about it else wise. Things get even more mutated on this version. Something like Hawkwind getting grounded up and mixed in with some masa flour and then fried in ZZ Top grease.
--Dale Merrill, Smashin' Transistors