Darwin was right and the Teddybears are proof positive. Born over 15 years ago as neo-jazz rockers who favored punk, the Teddybears mutated, grew, shrank and transformed to become the Euro-electronica band we have today. Along the way they picked up enormous bear heads, a better-than-cult following and the attention of several significant international artists who jumped at the chance to contribute to the Bears’ mission.
The Teddybears hail from the pop womb of Stockholm, Sweden but their initial release, Soft Machine, on Atlantic’s Big Beat label is anything but pop. Running the range from the pure electronica of “Magic Kraut” through the Jamaican Reggae inspired “Are You Feelin’ It” to a perfect rock landing of “Punkrocker” with punk icon Iggy Pop at the helm, this CD is one of those rare finds where there truly is something for everyone. The 13 tracks feature guest vocals from seven artists including Mad Cobra, Neneh Cherry and Daddy Boastin.
While the album slips a bit at the end with the indifferent “Riot Going On” and almost sleep-inducing “Alma,” relief is a quick track skip back to the dancing fun of “Yours To Keep” with the sexy voice of Neneh Cherry promising us she is ours “…to keep if we want to.” The anthem of the album belongs to “Punkrocker.” I may be biased, having seen Iggy Pop perform twelve times, but the combination of the Teddybears’ driving beat with Iggy’s authoritative voice just makes me want to start smearing peanut butter all over my body. While some may scream, “Sell out!” for the Bears letting General Motors use this tune in a Cadillac commercial, I find it completely cool to hear the almost 60-year-old Iggy announcing he is, “Bored with looking good.”
The Teddybears are a band that deserves a broad audience and global success. They have paid their dues and the results show on Soft Machine. With the holidays fast approaching, combine Soft Machine with a real teddy bear for a gift even the dance-challenged will appreciate.
– Simon King