Monday, September 15, 2014

Chikkin - Which Came First?

Chikkin - Which Came First?

Egg EGA-3690, Canada, 1978

Not much information about this band other than that they were a three piece from the Toronto area. I can't really slot this album into any particular genre as there are so many influences thrown about that it tends to be a bit of a mash-up. Pop commercialism, rock balladry, sixties whimsy, spacey electronics, jazz excursions and a great dollop of quirkiness; they all come and go without apparent aim.

There actually are some good moments and interesting ideas to be found. Certainly album opener "Replica" with it's funky wah'ed guitar is worth a listen. As well, track 5, the jazzy instrumental "Spacious", showcases some nice guitar and piano work.
Ultimately, though,  Which Came First? fails in three important ways. The above mentioned lack of stylistic direction is one, but I don't think this is the major factor, as several bands have recorded great albums that are far from stylistically linear. A second failure I find is in the mixing. The bass and drums are too forward for my liking, often burying the other instruments. The biggest letdown, however, is in the overall sound, and especially the vocals. I have seen them described as wimpish and really, I can't say it better. There just seems to be no meat here.
All said, I don't think of this as a bad album per se, but rather a big disappointment. I do hear alot of potential here. Perhaps with more time spent writing and some better vocals Chikkin could have made a pretty good rock album. In the end I am left wondering what could have been.

Where this album excels, oddly enough, is in the packaging, so much so that I could even scratch my head and wonder if the music was written to provide reason for the physical product. The band name appears in reflective silver foil on the front cover which is only a slightly interesting gimmick (that hasn't stood the test of time well as it seems most copies are damaged in this area). However, upon removal of the vinyl from the sleeve we find that Chikkin's album, which is on the Egg label (har har), is pressed on clean white vinyl with a lovely yellow label so that the disc itself looks like a big fried egg. And this is why I, and I would suspect many others, bought this album unheard in the first place. Note that original packaging includes an inner lyric sleeve.

Side 1 - 1. Replica 2. Upthisclose 3. Martyr In Vinyl 4. Correspondence 5. Spacious
Side 2 - 1. I'm Not A Sin 2. The Quitter 3. Moonlit Hill 4. Starbrite 5. Big Dream Sell

Greg Evans-bass/synthesizer/vocals;
David Tomlinson-drums/percussion/vocals;
Eddy Valiquette-guitar/vocals.

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