Although initially launched a few years back as an outlet for the contemporary Balearic stylings of producer Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy and his various associates, Claremont 56 has developed into something of a must-check label for open-minded music heads. A commitment to unearthing little-known or unreleased gems from often overlooked or left-of-centre production mavericks (Fist of Facts and Holger Czukay, for example), coupled with deluxe artwork and limited edition vinyl pressings, has made many of the label’s releases nigh-on essential.
For those with a passion for the obscure and historic, this latest Claremont 56 label is something special – even by Murphy’s exacting standards. Amazingly, it’s the first ever collection of recorded material from a New York band called Dog Eat Dog. Little known outside of nerdish post-punk circles due to a previous lack of record releases, Dog Eat Dog were once thought of as one of the most innovative and incendiary live acts in the Big Apple punk-funk scene. Quite way they never made it to wax is a mystery; certainly, the music showcased here – a mix of studio demos and live tracks, recorded in the late 1970s and early 80s – is as good as any of their contemporaries (ESG, Liquid Liquid and Talking Heads being the most obvious comparisons).
There is, naturally, plenty to savour. “New Bongos” and “Dog Eat Dog” offer a rare insight into their infamous live shows, revealing a sparse but funky sound that combined ESG-ish live bass, snaking saxophones and loose drums with early B-52s attitude and Talking Heads strut. Then there’s the likes of “Windingo” and “Sonic Turf” – acid-fuelled hoedowns that sound like chaos distilled into three-minute chunks of NYC grooviness. It all adds up to a thrilling slice of previously unheard musical history – a raw but funky fusion of low-slung rock, dub funk and disco-punk. As you’d expect from Claremont 56, the vinyl version of Dog Eat Dog is something to really treasure. Pressed in limited quantities on white vinyl with a reproduction of original band artwork by Keith Haring, it’s an absolute delight.