Fun Lovin’ Criminals – 100% Colombian

Originally Released 17th November 1998. Review published in it’s original form 1st April 2007.

Amongst many other things, the Criminals’ debut Come Find Yourself had tried to establish their hip hop credentials, a bold move, but to for it’s fans the conclusion was that they’d taken up residence in other people’s metaphorical ‘hoods – from first person takes on the brutality of street life (As done better by Ice Cube) or the joy of getting out of yer head (as done better by Cypress Hill) FLC’s subject matter was largely other people’s property.

Without a reputation to establish second time around, 100% Colombian was the record they’d really wanted to make. Relative success gave them the creative latitude to devotedly mine their prosaic influences, led by quixotic frontman Huey Morgan, a fractured ex bar hop and locquacious raconteur who used the backdrop of pre 9/11 Noo-Yoik as a smeared but rich lyrical palette. Creating laconic fables from the alleyways, abandoned lots and grimy sidewalks of the city’s underbelly, from his barstool in a seedy Brooklyn cocktail lounge Morgan lovingly coaxed and chided his alma mater through a catalogue of post modern fables.

Unfettered, it was a musical smorgasbord; punk-funk, lounge, cod-metal, country and louche pastiches of knee trembling seventies disco, a roustabout carousel which proved to be the band’s commercial motherlode for the decade that followed. At times, it’s almost too diverse for it’s own good, bursting at the seams with rioutous derivation; Led Zep cod-riffery (Southside) fret wanking Santana-esque axe plagiarism (“All for Self”) gecko necked lounge frippery (Back on The Block) and the hitherto unpatented sound of revered sumo luurve god Barry White’s sweaty butt crack (Love Unlimited). Realising that all the world loves a trier, especially one so prepared to show his flaws, Morgan took it upon himself to carry the argument, daring you to dislike his band’s gangsters-with-a-heart attitood or wind up like Jimmy Hoffa. Like a jilted prom date, the singer crooned like a wet-up, lachrymose Hispanic ruffle-shirted Manilow, lousy with bitterness and regret as on the Roxanne for the 90’s “We are All Very Worried About You” before toasting the vacuousness of the entertainment business on “Big Night Out” and closing with singalong, fucked up serenade to phone onanism “Mini Bar Blues”.

It could’ve ended up as parody – but in hindsight, 100% Colombian was the FLC’s tour de force.

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