One of the few bands capable of effectively combining the spontaneity and musicianship of jazz with the urgency and rough-edged sound of rock, the Box were a five-piece spin-off from Sheffield industrial funksters Clock DVA. Comparisons to Captain Beefheart, Gang of Four, the Minutemen and Ornette Coleman are all appropriate; execution is first-rate (especially by ex-Clocks Paul Widger on guitar and saxophonist Charlie Collins), the material frantic.
The Box EP contains five manic cuts, setting instruments on wild collision courses behind Peter Hope’s vocals. Secrets Out improves on that formula by injecting unexpected subtleties and an underlying murkiness that give even more impact to the hyperactive guitar/sax counterpoint. A solid, frenzied album guaranteed to keep listeners on their toes.
Great Moments in Big Slam, however, is quite a letdown. The pace is slower and the band really doesn’t get a chance to cut loose, but that’s not the problem so much as the heavy-handed percussion and grossly exaggerated vocals which dominate the production. After releasing the Muscle In EP, the Box announced a trial separation to pursue other projects. The posthumous Muscle Out was recorded live at the Leadmill in Sheffield.