Boiled in Lead, Alloy (Omnium,1998)

Gut reaction: keeper.

Alloy is the "Greatest Hits" collection of Boiled in Lead,a collection of tracks mostly culled from previous albums leavenedwith a few previously unreleased tunes and new versions. This isquite a ride, since Boiled in Lead has evolved through styles andcrew changes, from the early mostly- Celtic-trad days with JaneDauphin to thrash- Balkan-and-country with whiskey-voiced AdamStemple. The band survived the fifteen year journey with a distinctidentity and a twisted sense of humor.

So reviewing Alloy is hard to separate from reviewing theband, history and all. If your heart is beating, listening to BiL islikely to make it bust: BiL's music moves your feet and emotions.Just when they've got you lathered up and frothed from dancing to amanic 7/8 beat, they throw in an achingly gentle tune, so your heartmerely cracks rather than crapping out altogether. A BiL gig is notfor the cardiac-challenged. Although an album can't do justice to agood gig, this may be as close as you'll find to catharsis in a jewelcase.

One delight of the album is that -- unlike a gig -- we get to hearJane's voice again, and Todd Menton's. Many of the favorite oldsongs, including "The Micro-organism" and "The Dreadnaught," arehere. The newer standards are included as well, from thefoot-tangling "Pontiaka" and stomping screaming "Rasputin" -- I'mdoing the stomping and screaming, not them -- to the completelyseductive"Neda Voda" and hypnotic "Drowning". Several Steven Brustsongs are represented including "Puking in the Heather". "Fuck theCircus" shows off the band at its racuous best, if not its rudest.("State Trooper" and "Pig Dog Daddy" didn't make it into thecollection, I'm pleased to report.)

Perennial tuneful faves, "Step it Out Mary" (Stemple version) and"Madman Mora Blues" (Menton version), are here, and the album closes-- how else could it end? -- with the sweet, the gentle, the lovely,the soul-satisfying "Jaime Across the Water".

Hardcore Leadheads already have their copies of Alloy2, a short-run collector's 2-CD set that includes thisalbum. Alloy is a better fit for those who like Boiled in Lead, butnot enough to buy every album, or as an introduction to the band.Although I have the other albums, I'm keeping this one, too.

[Yvonne Carts-Powell]