I love a good reissue and one of the best to come along this year is the re-release of Lydia Lunch’s debut solo album, Queen of Siam. Lunch produced this after the demise of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and before she joined the almighty 8 Eyed Spy. The cast she assembled to accompany her on this was pretty impressive (theguitarist was Robert Quine) and the production, musicianship and general vibe are a million miles away from her shambolic no-wave roots. The great Gloomy Sunday showcases Lydia as a vaguely gothic torch singer while Mechanical Flattery and Tied and Twisted is Lydia doing her best little girl voice and somehow coming over as a new genre of nursery rhyme, creepy pop. Her version of Spooky is a strangely straight version with sassy saxophones and showcases the full horror of lounge disco. Lunch writes about how much it cost to make Queen of Siam in the liner notes and I suspect that Spooky was included just in case the record company wanted to release a single. Lady Scarface is all cabaret show band, A Cruise to the Moonis all jazzy, noir classic but the track I enjoyed the most is the awesome Atomic Bongos which has a hint of the post-punk funk that would later be adopted by ESG and Liquid Liquid.
Many out there would say that Lydia never bettered her debut but I’m not one of them. I really enjoy theHoneymoon in Red stuff and to my ears she never bettered the Harry Crews album although I think 8 Eyed Spy and Teenage Jesus and The Jerks are just fucking essential as well. If you are looking for Lunch at her drug fucked insane best, Queen of Siam is probably not for you but this is a pretty amazing record none the less. One of the reissues of the year.