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Album Review: The Minus 5's Dungeon Golds
The History of Dungeon Golds
Dungeon Golds is not exactly a new album. A compilation album of sorts, these twelve tracks were culled from the Record Store Day only release, Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, which consisted of 5 LPs respectively titled, Without a Gun, Of Monkees and Men, An Accumulation of Soot, Hell Bent for Heaven, and War is Over. According to M5 main man Scott McCaughey, in an article detailing the evolution of Dungeon Golds on the Yep Roc website, he “leaned towards songs that [had] made their way into the band’s recent live sets,” and noted that “six [of the tracks were] altered, edited or enhanced mixes/versions from those that appeared on the boxed set.” The article does not state which six tracks were altered, neither do the liner notes for the album itself, which states simply that, “some were recently refurbished.”
Having not been one of the lucky 750 people to get their hands on the limited edition 5 LP set, I am left to consider Dungeon Golds on its own merit as a stand-alone album.
Dungeon Golds in Review
A punchy set of songs presented, as many McCaughey-led projects are, in the style of a garage band straight out of the ‘60s, Dungeon Golds appears to be primarily concerned with mortality and the Dylan Thomas approach of not going quietly. This is also not new territory for McCaughey—with The Minus 5 (aka, The Gun Album) and Killingsworth both immersing themselves very heavily in dark lyrical themes. However, another McCaughey trademark, the subject matter is approached with characteristic humor and wit.
Album opener, “My Generation,” takes The Who’s classic youth anthem and updates the hell out of it for those that grew up with the original who are on the verge of entering their sixth decade of life, a generation that is “still as loud as it’s old, not ready to die […], not ready to fold,” and the music that accompanies the message—all fuzzed-out, rollicking guitars and killer riffs—certainly bears that out.
The rest of the album rolls along in much the same way, with the recurring subjects of death (the aforementioned “My Generation”), regret (“The History You Hate”), and the afterlife (“In the Ground”) counterbalanced by the toe-tapping catchiness of the music, and some fun, absurdist lyrics (see “It’s Magenta, Man!”). Far from a perfect album, Dungeon Golds suffers a little in the way of pacing and tempo with some songs sounding very similar to one another on repeated spins, but it’s a fun record from a great, overlooked songwriter, featuring some great guest performances (including one of the final recorded appearances of keyboard legend Ian McLagan) and well worth a listen.
Top 5 Tracks:
- “My Generation”
- “It’s Beautiful Here”
- “Adios Half Soldier”
- “Chinese Saucer Magnolia”
- “Remain in Lifeboat”
If you like The Minus 5’s Dungeon Golds, here are some suggestions:
- Down with Wilco, The Minus 5, Yep Roc, 2003
- I Think This Is, The Young Fresh Fellows, Yep Roc, 2009
- Olé! Tarantula, Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, Yep Roc, 2006