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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The March Violets

The Palace of Infinite Darkness

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit to never hearing this band before. This collection is an intriguing introduction to an unusual group. I say unusual because you don't often hear this much change in the output of an act. We get stuff with male lead vocals, some with female and others with both. That's the least change here, though. There are times when the band are decidedly punk and Goth based. There are others when they turn more artsy, but still have that punk angle. They turn toward the punky side of Hawkwind space rock at points. Then they also go full mainstream pop rock. You get a look at all those sides along the road of this five CD set. There is also an extensive booklet documenting the history of The March Violets. I can't imagine a better introduction to the group. Given that many of the things here are rarities, I'm sure it's of value to hardcore fans, as well.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
CD 1
Play Loud Play Purple - Complete Singles 1982-85 (All The Recordings Released 1982-85 In Original Versions)
Radiant Boys

The rhythm section starts this, and I love the bass sound on it. The cut drives out into a cool punky Goth jam.

Religious As Hell
I really dig the driving energy of this. The guitar that flows all around everything is cool. The vocals have a real punk angle to them.
Starting with percussion, this is a fun romp with both male and female vocals. It's perhaps catchier than anything to this point. Yet, the punky guitar remains. I love the driving bass work on it, too.
Children On Stun
Another driving Goth rocker with plenty of punk in the mix, this is solid, if not a big change.
Bon Bon Babies
This has a cartoony vocal in contrast to the more traditional rocking one. It's a fun romp. It's much more playful.
Grooving In Green
The rhythm section gets this one going. At times this makes me think of the punkier side of Hawkwind. This is not a huge change, but it is quite effective.
Again, I really dig the bass on this cut. The whole track rocks well, but it's not a big change from what we've heard thus far. It does include a percussion dominated drop down at the end.
Crow Baby
I real dig the energetic sound on this. For some reason it reminds just a tiny bit of The B-52s, probably due to the male and female vocal interplay.
1 2 I Love You
The bass is very prominent on this number. The cut is driving and so cool. It makes good use of the contrast between the male and female vocals.
Long Pig
Percussion with weird vocals gets this one going. Synthetic and echoey percussive sounds take over after those voices are done. As guitar joins and vocals come over the top for just the chorus, I am very much reminded of The B-52s. That element comes back as a reference here and there, but this also is built on a driving guitar concept. "Long Pig" is a reference to cannibalism, as in human flesh as food.
Snake Dance
Imagine a harder edged version of The B-52s. You are probably hearing something similar to this in your head right now.
It's Hot
I love the mean guitar sound on this. The whole number is energized and so hot. Then again, look at the title.
Slow Drip Lizard
There is a mean hard rocking sound to this. The bass has a great prominent place in the mix, and the whole tune just rocks really well.
Walk Into The Sun
This is driving, hard rocking and very strong. It's one of my favorites on this particular disc of the set.
Lights Go Out
There is an almost mysterious edge as this number gets going. This is classic Goth rock.
Not  a big change, this is another driving Goth rocker.
There is a softer, more pop rock vibe to this. The female vocals bring a different angle here. This is closer to a dance music kind of thing. It has some Cure-like guitar, but also feels a little like a B-52s balladic sort of number.
This has more of a mainstream pop rock groove, too. It's another that's a big departure, but still works really well.
Electric Shades
Here we get another more mainstream piece. In some ways this makes me think of Blondie a little. The main song structure is less Goth and more mainstream rock.
CD 2
Play Louder Play Purpler - Extended Versions & Eras (Extended Versions Plus Three 21st Century Tracks)       

Driving, edgy and cool, this has some dropped back sections. This is made up of many instrumental sections with short vocal ones. I love the bass driven movement later in the piece with its cool spacey, echoey vibe. That gets some of the vocals over the top at times.

Snake Dance (Extended)
This tells you what you get with the title and parenthetical. That said, I love the addition of piano on this, and the whole instrumental section in which it appears is so interesting and effective.
Walk Into The Sun (Extended)
This drives well in this version. I can make out more of that B-52s thing here.
Lights Go Out (Extended)
I'm reminded of Bauhaus here at times. This is another cool extended version of the earlier track.
Essence (Extended)
I dig the hard rocking edge of this cut a lot. This gets extended into a dance style mix via a percussive movement later.
Deep (Extended)
This one is also extended by a dance mix vibe at points.
Cut Down Pretty
Starting with a female vocal section, this is a weird number. There is a sort of "unmade" vibe to this thing. It's heavily rhythmic. It's also got all kinds of layers stacked all over it.
Road Of Bones
I really love this song. It's driving and has a great balance between male and female vocals. The arrangement is rich and features some killer guitar sounds.
This is not a big change, but it's a particularly effective track.
CD 3
Big Soul Kiss - The BBC Recordings 1982-84 (Recorded By The BBC For John Peel, Kid Jensen And Richard Skinner)          
Radiant Boys

New wave, Goth and more merge on this dance-styled rendition. There are washes of synthesizer over the top that seem a little gratuitous. The mix of vocals works well, though.

I really dig the driving Goth rock on this number a lot. It's a particularly effective song.
1 2 I Love You
I like the guitar on this number quite a bit. It's not a big departure overall, though.
Grooving In Green
While this is also cut from much the same cloth, it works really well. It's a classy rocker.
Crow Baby
Perhaps more punky and edgy, this is another winner.
The Undertow
While still decidedly Goth in nature, there is a lot more punk in the mix here. This doesn't work as well for me as some of the others do.
This is a driving, edgy punk rock styled tune that really rocks.
Slow Drip Lizard
The bass on this is tasty. The whole tune is effective. I like the combo of male and female vocals on it.
Walk Into The Sun
I really love the vocal arrangement on this. The dual voices work well together. The Cure-like musical motif is effective, too.
This is a cool number. It has a driving energy and some tasty Goth angles. Yet it has some definite mainstream things at play and some hints of The B-52s.
Kill The Delight
Particularly strong, this is energized, driving and so cool.
Big Soul Kiss
Another moving Goth rocker, this is a solid. While not a big change, it still manages to stand tall.
Lights Go Out
This feels dark and a bit creepy here as it gets going. The cut turns more typical as it drives out later.
Love Hit
This feels more mainstream rock, but still has some Goth in the mix.
Don't Take It Lightly
A high energy rocker, this is another with less Goth in the mix. The B-52s thing is in effect to some degree on this. The cut still manages more of an edgy vibe than that comparison suggests. I dig the more mainstream guitar solo a lot.
Electric Shades
I like this number well enough, but it doesn't seem all that different or special from the rest. That is until the almost metallic section later. That does manage to elevate things.
Face Of The Dragonfly
This rocker is effective. It has some of that B-52s thing brought by the female vocals. It's more of a straight-ahead rocker than that comparison would suggest, though.
Snake Dance
I love the bass sound on this driving rocker. This definitely has some of that B-52s angle, but it's delivered with a Goth edge.
More mainstream, this has a great flow and some cool hooks. It's another that has a bit of a B-52s vibe to it.
CD 4
Infinite Darkness - Unreleased Rarities 1982-84 (Studio And Live Recordings 1982-84)
Strangehead (Alternative Version)

Punkier, this feels more like coffin rock of acts like The Misfits. It's very cool. In fact, I'd consider this among the strongest stuff on the set. The contrast between male and female vocals works well.

Grooving In Green (Alternative Version)
I really dig the guitar sound on this track a lot. While edgier than other versions of this song, this is largely similar to those renditions.
Radiant Boys (Alternative Version)
The bass on this is great, but so is just about everything. This rocks out like crazy. It reminds me a little of the punkier side of Hawkwind. It gets pretty crazed later.
Radiant Boys
This version feels fierce and a little insane. I prefer the previous one, but the raw energy of this one works well, too. This is much weirder, though.
Children On Stun
Driving, raw and experimental, this is another powerhouse tune. It's part art rock, part punk and perhaps part space rock, too.
The same mix of concepts is on the menu here. I think this number elevates things from the previous cut.
The Palace Of Infinite Darkness
Tastefully weird art music is on the menu here. This is driving and has hints of both Devo and Hawkwind.
The mix of sounds is largely the same here. This really sounds so much like the edgier side of Hawkwind.
Virgin Sheep
This is driving and powerful. It's also very artistic.
Religious As Hell
Driving, hard-edged and cool, this rendition works well.
1 2 I Love You
Driving, noisy art punk is on the menu here. This gets pretty crazed. There is a long instrumental section at the end of this.
Long Pig
Percussion brings this into being. It builds outward from there. The echoey vocals on this bring some real weirdness to play.
Bon Bon Babies
Driving rock is on the menu here. The cartoony vocal part is really over the top on this version of the tune.
Radiant Boys
This comes in with some seriously spacey elements, but it features screams of both the male and female variety early. This has some non-screamed vocals, but there is a lot of screaming throughout, too.
A bit less extreme than some of the others on this disc, this has some cool drama and energy to it in a more Goth way.
The Palace Of Infinite Sadness
The rhythm section starts this number. The track drives out from there. It has some strange, but cool, art style built into it.
Big Soul Kiss
More new wave based, this has an energized groove and some cool hooks. I can make out some of those B-52s links here.
Cold Blue Breakdown           
More of a mainstream rocker, this is cool stuff.
Love In A Nightmare
More urgent and rocking, this still has a mainstream Goth vibe and even some hints of The B-52s built into it.
Rich City
I love the hard rocking groove on this. The cut manages to real scream out with power, while also keeping it Goth and danceable.
CD 5
Silver Lining - Unreleased Rarities 1985-87 (BBC Session For Janice Long Plus Studio Sessions 1985-87)   
High Times

I dig the new wave rocking groove of this. The guitar soloing on this is punky, artsy and so cool.

Close To The Heart
More melodic, this has a real art rock meets new wave angle to it. Yet, it's also mainstream and accessible.
South Country
A driving new wave meets pop rock groove is on the menu here. This is classy stuff that works really well.
Avalanche Of Love
I dig the swirling guitar later in the track a lot. It brings a mean edge to the cut. The track otherwise is more of the trademark new wave we've heard so far on this final disc of the set.
One Cut Too Much
A harder rocking and quite energized groove is on display here. The rich vocal arrangement on this works so well. The cut is another with plenty of new wave meets pop music in the mix.
Silver Lining
I love the guitar rocking sound on this thing. The tune is more of a mainstream rock number.
Turn To The Sky
Not a big change, this rocker makes me think of the band The Motels to some degree.
This rocker feels a lot like The Pretenders to me. This is another classy number, if a little less original than some of the rest we've heard to this point.
The Peacemaker
Another tasty rocker, this one works well, too. I dig the instrumental section a lot.
Here we get another that makes me think of The Pretenders. The instrumental section is complex, rich and so cool. It really elevates the piece from just pleasant to rather sublime.
No Love No Money
There is almost a funky groove to this tune. The cut starts with a rather punky intro, but drops to a more stripped down arrangement for the song proper. This is another with a lot of new wave music built into it. This has both whistling and harmonica at different points.
Flames Of Love
Here we get another mainstream rocker. This has some soaring moments, but overall is a little lackluster to me. Taken on its own, it's not bad, but it just doesn't stand all that tall amidst everything else here.
Snake Dance
I love the energetic groove of this. The multiple layers of vocals are a real charm of this tune. So is the guitar sound. Overall, everything about this version of the tune works so well. This is one of the strongest pieces on this final disc of the set.
Big Soul Kiss
This again has some hints of The B-52s to me here. The track is a mainstream rocker, but I can also hear some Pretenders on this thing.
Out Of This World
Now, this up-tempo tune really makes me think "Pretenders." It's another solid song, but not really a highlight by any means. It is catchy, though.
Face Of The Dragonfly
There is almost a psychedelic angle to the opening of this track. The number works out to more of the mainstream rock sound we've come to expect on this fifth CD. I really dig the instrumental break and bridge on this tune. It has some real meat on the bones.
Soaring pop rock is on display here. This is a classy tune, and it has some magic built into it.
Snake Dance

The percussion arrangement is more pronounced and up-front here. This works well, but I prefer the version we heard a few songs ago to this one.

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