Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hank Snow - When Tragedy Struck
Righteous

Christ almighty, the title of this little cherub is surely one of the most succinct examples of country music's well-tilled traditional stoicism for tragedy doesn't simply strike but bludgeon every inch of the already beaten to a blubbering n' bloody pulp with an emotional mini-gun, but that's just ploughing the field for battles anew. It is however, possessed of much macabre enchantment, as such things usually are, dark drama's cradled with sorrow that never descend into the mawkishness that maketh mirth outta cow'n'tree wonky tonkin' music, with the rawhide rough-hewn humility and pathos as though grimaced out by Josey Wales to a soft-step backing of honky-tonk hymnals. A Drunkard's Child is classic tear-rimmed balladry as is the father / son tale of Don't Make Me Go To Bed And I'll Be Good, The Convict And The Rose like an older sister of Merle Haggard's Sing Me Back Home. This album also has, hell it had to have it on, surely, Old Shep on it that Elvis had brought to torrential national tear-fest a few years earlier, and later on another farewell to four paws on Little Buddy. As a forbear of Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt this cheerful chapter shouldn't be discarded in a little plot on it's lonesome, being a worthy historical document from a time when babies grew up to be cowboys not crybabys. It even ends with a surprising twist, at the wake perhaps, on the sprightly jig of I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail.
Stu Gibson
MOB - The Greatest Enemy
MOB

Oooh eck, a seventh slop of sub-'87 Saxon out-takes lathered in classic euro melodicism anyone? Disappointingly shoddy fare from the mightily molten rock lava-lands of Sweden, beyond trite lyrics and telegraphed guitar to boot plus unlimited edition extra portions of being almost totally devoid of personality. As Fredrik Notling himself notes, with rare gusto, perhaps appropriately, on Life - 'Have you ever considered something / You might be throwing your life away / Do you really seize the moments / Are they wasted or gone astray'. Unsatisfied us both then matey, you've trawled through seven albums and about a decade and a half and I've just squandered about twenty minutes having a break from reading and waiting for my beans n' rice to coagulate and one of us might get paid for it. Bon chance!
Stu Gibson
Last Stop China Town - Into The Volcano
Fool's Paradise

And so it came to pass that not all metal of the new breed verily broadswording it's merry way out of Britain's bulging bile ducts numbered beast-slayers and lightning-riders in the traditions of the revered old guard. Maybe tis to be expected for the wayside is full of errant wanderers who easily strayed from the narrow paths of righteous volcanic riff venom. As one all for the re-emergence of good old anthemic boy's own metal rising against the nu-metal then emo hordes this is, disappointingly, far too unimaginative for all it's guts n' grit. While there are some pounding passages from Mechanical Sunrise's impressive starting-block disintegration onwards, this never raises the temperature and is a workman-like slug up a hillside, but more the Halesowen cribbage society's monthly hike to the chippy than a Hamburger Hill. If it was simply battle-ready bravado we were measuring this gets bogged down in marshy terrain leaving itself stranded as sitting targets for sniping practice. This bunch of Midland's marauders never venture beyond the mid-eighties mid-league of Maiden and early Metallica cannon-fodder. It could be a pastiche if it weren't so clear they're really striving though valiant efforts count for nothing when you've an army beleagured by trench-foot and lack of ammunition, even at times the wrong calibre for the weapons they do possess in working order. A perfect example of the ages old aphorism about sweat and inspiration and a salutary lesson showing how difficult effective thrash is to, like, totally execute. There's been a comment or two about their name in contrast to the defiantly trademark thrash symbolism of the rest of their branding, but as a moniker that could be listed in the Racing Post at the 4.15 at an all dayer in Halifax then this bunch are clear also-rans. Alas, not even close enough to catch a glimpse of the pearl-handled pistols never mind catch a whiff of the cigar.
Stu Gibson
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