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Cud - Hull Tower Ballroom

NME, 20 May 1990

No one can hear you scream in Hull. The home of The Beautiful South - cursed purveyors of normality and the averga - is nondescript to the point of facelessness. Once infamous for its red-light district and garrulous fishermen it is now but a shell of a town: the planners' dream aborted.

In such distinctly unwelcoming surroundings Cud make sense. Although Leeds-based, they're the perfect antidote and healing balm to the drudgery and omnipresent bordeom of living in a place where 11 pints, a fight and a hurried f--- are the height of entertainment.

Verily the North shall rise again, even if only in a metaphorical sense, through the denizens of manchester, the techno-buffs of Sheffield, Leeds noiseniks and Cud. They're huge up North and seen as clod-hopping students down South. All this should change, however, with the release of the new LP, 'Leggy Mambo', an artefact that spits in the face of parochialism and knocks boots on matters of the heart.

What price intelligence these days? Suddenly it seems that reading the works of Schopenhauer and Kafka are no longer pursuits pop would-bes admit to. It seems dumbness sells - being street-smart or a convicted pilferer is more fashionable than actually learning about the workings of the world and the human mind. Well, Cud arent' having any of that. To them natural intelligence is a giftto be used sparingly and stealthily without lapsing into po-faced pretentiousness. They realise being in a rock group is essentially a dumb occupation but that shouldn't stop them from lifting it from the mire, throwing some challenges and still having a king-sized time. They know the ropes.

Why, then, are Cud so uncool?

This is the main question we chew over backstage after the show. Screaming girls of the 13-year-old variety have declared their undying love for Carl, their singer. Cud recently scraped into the top 100. Phrases like "Your lips are so spectacular/Your love so molecular" have been bandien around during concerts. The Third World debt has grown and yet Cud are seen as eminently unfashoinable oiks having a go. Why?

"Because we're too cool for people to understand us," offers Dunphy a tad facetiously.

"People that are seen as cool are obviously a bit cool," rejoins Carl. "Look at Happy Mondays - they weren';yt anybody';s idea of cool a couple of years ago. We don't go out of our way to follow fashoin, we wait for things to swing round our way."

Well, for me at least, tonight Cud were drop-dead cool. Even given that nothing much happens by way of incident, you won't find many groups - bar The Fall - locked in the predicament of hiring a support group that plays tribute to them. The luckless group, Bungalow, were Cud Mark II in that they only ripped up the faster Cud songs.

And CUd deserve the worship. For years they've been mixing rock attitudes with dance fluidity to no avail - even covering Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing' long before the Mondyas discoverd Donovan and Patti Labelle - only now they're much more polished, more concise, more incisive. the first thing that strikes you about these guys live is that they're seriously twisted. then you realise they've got baggy grooves to match, and why is the guitarist moving into magic mushroom territory?

Cud offer sensory overload, controlled chaos and a feast for the feet all at once. Everyone dances instead of staring and pontificating on what they're on about.Even Carl dances,a nd he's quite serious about hi hippyesque shake, Volkswagen pendant dangling. But when he sings it's a differnet matter. It's not exactly conventional indie moaning or cod-soul affectations, but a howl from the very depths mixed with something detached and quite impressive. People often miss out on Cud's sense of humour - they seldom take themselves seriously and even belong to a weirdly funny sect - but it's kinda hard to avoid the combustible r'n'r thrust that's always palpable.

The actual songs are the most incredible aspect of the set. Most people write dance music and forget the songs, but Cud are blessed with harrowing evocations of the everday. It isn't easy to pinpoint any influences, such is their guile. And when sonhs like "Love In A Hollow tree' - with it's African/Hawaiian guitar stylings - hit you right there, you think how worthless most baggy pretenders sound in the face of the might of Cud.

Dele Fadele

Pictures: Tim Paton