So Christmas is less than a week away and we are now into our all important top five choices…
Prophets of Rage remind me of that famous spoof advert from the Fast Show: ‘If you like cheese and you like peas, you’ll love ‘Cheesy Peas’. If you like Rage Against The Machine and you like Public Enemy…
As a collaboration (also including Cypress Hill’s B-Real) it does exactly what it says on the tin and sounds precisely how you would expect it to sound. In some ways the musical template is the PE collaboration with Anthrax on Bring The Noise, but the most obvious antecedent is the very first Rage Against The Machine album. One of the five most important albums in the history of rock. Fact.
Personally I love the whole album and play it to death. Some have criticised it for being too straightforward, too obviously political, too musically similar to RATM, but I would argue that we live in polarised times and an unsubtle naked power grab by the alt right requires a similarly unsubtle response. Which brings us to ‘Unfuck The World’. Subtle it isn’t, but like all great political pop it doesn’t forget the importance of a mighty tune and an earworm of a riff.
Trump visiting the UK? Bring the noise.
My next choice is from the most criminally ignored album of the year – ‘Modern Ruin’ by Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. Frank Carter is the tattooed former frontman of hardcore britPunks Gallows . Finding himself in something of a musical ghetto he left Gallows to form his own band, ‘Modern Ruin’ is their third album and the record on which they have really hit their stride. Frank’s ferocious vocals are still front and centre, railing against the inhumanity of the migrant crisis one minute and crooning a love song to his wife the next. Musically the band are as tight as Phillip Hammond’s wallet with styles ranging from neo-folk, Joy Division darkness, hardcore and on this track Cult-esque driving rock. Number 5, ‘Wild Flowers’ Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. (Frank’s description of the video is well worth reading).
My number 5 is probably another track to benefit from being released relatively recently. The band first came to our attention a decade ago with their “Oracular Spectacular” debut, containing “Time to Pretend” and the much-played “Kids”. They struggled to break into my Top 20 with “It’s Working” in 2010, and although they did release their third album four years ago, they have had a hiatus since then. This is the first offering from their yet-to-be-released fourth album of the same name, and if this particular slice of synth-pop is typical then it’ll get my approval as the recent success of Jagwar Ma and Tame Impala has shown. Number 5…
After a busy couple of days, I promise to be a little more timely over the final countdown.
As is my wont (& seeking the group’s indulgence in this forum) my yearly music review includes albums not just released this calendar year but anything new purchased this year (comfortably avoiding the main problem of most annual lists which tend to eschew or ignore albums released in the last few weeks of the year). As a consequence, my #5 song (and definitely one of my top 10 albums) comes from Eli “Paperboy” Reed’s 2016 release “My Way Home”. Not since The Commitments, and perhaps Paolo Nuitini, have I head someone white do such a great job with the Motown sound. With Hammond organ, Gospel-style vocals and slapping bass, the album holds track after track of toe-tapping and uplifting tunes. “My Way Home” (easily found online) & “The Strangest Thing” are more traditional Blues Brothers style tunes & the main release “Hold Out” (see the Paris 2017 version if you can) are all worthwhile but the selected track is his solo performance of “What Have We Done”:
PS Also worth watching is Reed’s cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s song “Up Above My Head” (found in the same brewery session from which the chosen clip was drawn). It’s worth observing that Tharpe was acknowledged only last week by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for her contribution to the development of modern rock and roll with Americans like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis all citing Tharpe as a key influence. Her tour through Britain with Muddy Waters in the early 1960s has also been nominated as inspirational by British guitar luminaries like Keith Richards & Eric Clapton. It is well worth finding Tharpe’s original performance of “Up Above My Head” – look for the version from her performance on 1960 American network program “TV Gospel Time”.