Album review: FARGO – Constellation

SPV [Release date 25.05.18]

Right, strap yourself in – I’m going to be as charitable as I can here because I think it’s crass and churlish to be overly critical if someone else has been there and done it and you haven’t. Nothing better than throwing a gang of mates together and getting some kind of collective resonance out of a bunch of musical instruments – I’ve never properly done that…well, I did once – smoked something called Trainwreck, jammed in a mate’s basement….we thought it sounded brilliant for twenty minutes and then found out we forgot to press “record”. True story – and who the hell knows but I can put my hand on my heart and tell you we were remarkably good, the essence of everything great about classic rock.

Anyway, when I do get famous, what we did remember to record that night will definitely be included in the bonus, digi, mini, diamond-quality, limited edition, signed 12-inch, Blu-ray, picture disc album for 49.99 or a buck 50 on Spotify.
Right, so 36 years after their last album release in 1982, and spawned by the “major success” of founder member and bassist Peter Knorn’s autobiography – titled and loosely translated as “20 Years of Rock’n'Roll Insights and Views of a Bassist”…..(no, me neither) – German hard rockers Fargo got to “wondering what they would sound like today if the band was still around”.

PR blurb is proof that you can, in fact, make a pig’s ear sound like a silk purse…..bassist Knorn had a young fire-bellied, whippersnapper called Matthias Jabs in the band for a while pre-1978….and I brushed past Les Dawson once in a chip shop in Blackpool after the panto but it didn’t make me a comedian. Knorn also went on to manage Michael Schenker, UFO, Glenn Hughes and Uli Jon Roth – I can manage a knife and fork but it doesn’t make me a chef. They supported AC/DC, Mother’s Finest and The Small Faces back in the day and I’ve supported a Theakston’s Ale habit since the ‘80s – okay, that does make me good at drinking beer but you get my point.

Having said I was going to be charitable, Constellation isn’t horrible but I’m not sure this will appeal to a wider audience than all those young, leather-draped Germans from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s who are now accountants at Audi or are looking for that nostalgic kick to alleviate the boredom of winning World Cups and the annual holiday in an Austrian wellness resort.

“Loser’s Blues” is a jaunty country-rock number which could conceivably sit comfortably on a Francis Rossi solo album, “Goddess of Destiny” is one of those attempts at rock/reggae crossover that the Scorps tried in the ‘90s and “Cross to Bear” doffs its cap to that cheesy, whistley Scorps song about wind – but without the whistely bit…..

Honestly, the most entertaining thing about this album is listening out for the IKEA-quality lyrics which non-English-first-language-speakers ALWAYS come up with……”okay I admit, I used to be myself a prick”, “step back, a train is coming, mind the gap” (REALLY ??), “this is annoying, like a fly”, (from a different song) “buzz, buzz, buzz is what flies do”, “if I said it was Christmas tonight, you’d be looking for snow outside” and “what a mess you were in, you drank yourself into oblivion, I spat out my glass of gin”. I was going to say you couldn’t write this but Fargo did, so that proves me wrong….and they have a song called “Southern Breeze”, the lyrics of which include the titles of no less than twenty Elvis Presley hit singles titles !!

Do you remember thinking that the Eurovision Song Contest was the antithesis of cringetastic, musical endeavor ? Well, Constellation isn’t quite that bad but it is Teutonic Dad-rock and the biggest bong and the strongest strain of Trainwreck in the world isn’t going to change that. ** (but it might get a *** in the bargain bin at Aldi in Hannover).

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

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