CD Punk Rock (CD 174718),
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2. Corporal Chalkie
3. I'm So Happy
5. 32 Weeks
6. Work All Week
7. Building, The
9. Trevira Trousers
10. This Sporting Life
11. Never Been in a Riot
12. Lonely and Wet
13. Fight the Cuts
14. Chopper Squad
15. Dan Dare
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 82
The Mekons: Langford (vocals, guitar, banjo, mbira, drums); Greenhalgh (vocals, guitar, percussion); Bell (vocals, accordion, marimba); Timms (vocals, Shruti box); Lu (vocals, saz); Ken Life (guitar); Honeyman (fiddle);
Corina (bass); Goulding (drums); Mitch.
Additional personnel: Jessica Billey Eagelbauer (fiddle).
Engineers: Ken Sluiter, Adam Jacobs, Avery Lerner.
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands between 2002 & 2003. Includes liner notes by Colin Stewart.
Personnel: Jonboy Langford & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (vocals, guitar, banjo, drums); Tom Greenhalgh (vocals, guitar, percussion); Jessica Billey (fiddle); Goulding (drums).
Audio Mixer: The Mekons.
Liner Note Author: Colin Stewart.
Recording information: Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2002-2003); New York, NY (2002-2003); Western Sound Labs, Chicago, IL (2002-2003).
Is it just ironic that the Mekons, some 27 years into their journey from Leeds snot-nose guttersnipe art students to the elder statesfolk of barroom/club stage domination, have entitled their 2003 recording Punk Rock? Only partially. The truth of the matter: those Brit mischief-makers wrote these songs nearly 30 years ago; and some of them they've just come 'round to recording now in the no man's lands between Chicago and Amsterdam. These are authentic punk anthems, played by a band who actually knows how to play their instruments now. Inspired by their catalog, yet being unable to undo the effects of musical growth, the 15 songs on Punk Rock feel oddly out of time and place. There is a certain ramshackle grace in them that offers the ghostly hint of 1977's chaotic joy, but being played by people who no longer have the comfort of naivete as a cushion against the outside world. Certain songs, such as "I'm So Happy" capture the rage and bluster of the time, but take on new weight coming from the mouth of a man who has seen the clock come full circle: history seems to be repeating itself with an ironic vengeance in a post-Thatcher Britain that's been replaced by a Bush/Blair alliance and is ramming the "truth" down the punters throats. While the angry urgency written into these songs cannot be dredged up from time immemorial, the bitter laughter and tempered rage of seeing the enemy and his forked tongue coming whistling over the horizon once more is abundant. This is first and foremost a rock and roll record; check out the anthemic craziness in "32 Weeks," "Trevira Trousers," "This Sporting Life," an amazingly shambolic "Never Been In a Riot," and "Fight the Cuts," (with guests Eaglebauer, a Mekons tribute band). And then there's the tempered, post-punk, country strangeness and charm in "Corporal Chalkie," "Rosanne," and "Chopper Squad," to offer a fractured view of a band that has seen it all and played it all while never losing their sense of impropriety and disorder. Punk Rock is a fine album; if some of the material sounds dated, that's good because it showcases a music that was rather than something played for corporate dollars by kids who weren't born when the band were first kicking up a ruckus down Leeds way. Punk rock is now the very simulacra it railed against, and this album by the Mekons investigates and confirms that in spades. ~ Thom Jurek
Rolling Stone (1/22/04, p.70) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Shuffles between three-chord barnburners and mellower group singalongs, and the memorable, politically minded tunes are a testament to the band's bighearted collective spirit..."
Spin (2/04, p.100) - "England's Mekons were there at the birthing and are still kicking against the pricks a quarter-century later."
Uncut (5/04, p.104) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]he combination of fiddles, banjos, accordions and lean rock'n'roll sound just right. They remain funny, fly and fit for the future."
Mojo (Publisher) (2/04, p.101) - 3 stars out of 5 - "The songs they wrought a quarter-century ago with anxiety and confusion they render against the backdrop of today with fear and anger."
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