The Joup Friday Album: The Webb Brothers ‘Beyond The Biosphere’

MI0000750461There was a time when every day of my life was Saturday night. Sat on a hand-me-down couch in an attic room of my Dad’s house, my erstwhile friend and I dubbed our enclosure “The Biosphere” because we effectively sustained and spent our worthless lives inside; drawing hangover-antidote water from an old washbasin in the corner that we’d eventually piss it-out down and staving off cabin fever with Super Nintendo games and news broadcasts soundtracked by the CDs of the day under the umbrella of a pot-cloud courtesy of my dealer brother who lived in the room next door. We also dubbed it such because “The Biosphere”, so we kept telling ourselves, was somewhere we were destined to transcend as this album title suggested, taking with us our innate brilliance and earth-shattering discoveries made during our secondment in Inner Space.

When it came time for me to move out, the only mark either of us had really made on the world was the golden nicotine and THC sheen on the couch (save for inside the outlines of our bodies), some improvised ashtrays made from cola cans with the tops pliered-off, re-corked urine-filled wine bottles secreted beneath a dresser (which was customary when the washbasin was occupied by the other) and what looked like sullen grey clawmarks on the wall where the CRT TV’s heat vents rested, but I wouldn’t exchange the education I got in there while I was goofing-off at University for anything.

Messrs Whelks and Smith in the Biosphere.

Messrs Whelks and Smith in the Biosphere during the 20th Century’s death rattle.

I don’t know how we didn’t see the irony of it at the time (actually, yes I do, an alternate candidate for appellation was ‘The Pod‘) but the album we chose to name our clubhouse after doesn’t feature the most optimistic of ditties. After the exhilarating ascension of the opening eponymous title-track, it’s back to earth with a bump, which is where we remain with the exceptions of the Theremin and piano theatrics of ‘Sour Grapes’, the fretboard-finger numbing ‘Cold Fingers’, the concept album grandiosity of ‘Biosphere (Reprise) and the feedback and amp static of ‘You Took It Wrong’. The brothers Webb are the offspring of master craftsman Dad Jimmy of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, “The Worst That Could Happen”, “All I Know”, and “MacArthur Park” fame, and it shows; While it didn’t at the time, this ‘album’ (actually a carefully curated collection of mixed demos) plays like a classic, as each song segues perfectly into the next in this stack of understated and under-appreciated classics.

Ignored by the American industry, a truncated EP of ‘Beyond The Biosphere’ found it’s home on ‘Easy! Tiger’ records in the UK before being released by Warners in 1999 after the aforementioned 1000 copies of ‘excerpts’ sold out rapidly. Though based in Los Angeles but mostly only paid any attention-to by Europe, The Webb Brothers are still effectively operational.

Are you ready?

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Rock us, Thomas.

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

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