Ah, Fræbbblarnir. You crazy Icelandic punks, you.
Warkweld in the West is a funky little four song EP from 1981, right smack dab in the middle of Fræbbblarnir’s first incarnation. And it’s… well… it’s something, let me tell ya. It opens with “Oh, Sally!,” a tongue-in-cheek country song. And I do mean country. Not like cow-punk, or a sped up version of a country tune. Country. Even spinning at 45 rpms it sounds like everyone had a bit too much cough syrup.
Fortunately the other song on side A, “Where Were You?,” gets us back on track with classic style punk rock flavored with a dash of high-collared new wave. The B side gives us more of that early Icelandic punk rock that I enjoy so much. The pace on “Boys” is brisk, with sharp backing vocals and a simple but quick structure. And then it gets weird. “Jerusalem Lights” opens with a jazzy bass line but a bluesy guitar, along with what sounds like a Vox Continental organ (think Ray Manzarek of The Doors). It’s an instrumental, sort of free form jazz kind of thing. Not bad, but certainly not what I was expecting.
Fræbbblarnir bookend the two punk songs that are more typical of their sound between a pair of disparate tunes. If I were from the UK I might say that I thought they were “taking the piss” a bit with Warkweld in the West, though that’s not always such a bad thing. Maybe “Oh Sally!” and “Jerusalem Nights” were done as jokes, or maybe the band just got tired of doing the same stuff and wanted to screw around a bit. While I do like the two punk/new wave tunes, this is an awfully hard to get (i.e. expensive) record, so unless you’re an Icelandic punk-o-phile nutball like me, it may not be worth that much of your hard earned cash.