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With ‘civil unrest’ (a nice euphemism for nutters blowing people up or cutting their heads off with machetes) running rampant across much of the globe, the chemical-choked Earth threatening to belch up the generations of polluted shit it’s been force-fed in an almighty wave of climatic violence and half the population of the world’s only superpower heartily endorsing an agenda of greed, fear and hatred, as long as it’ll stop a few poofs getting married people’s tax breaks – the sick, unholy bastards, it’s time to draw a sharp line in the sand between vapid faux-rebel posturing and real rock’n’roll action – as ready to give a call to arms as it is a ride to the party.
Step up twelve-legged soul-powered punk rock crew Goldblade. Now in their tenth glorious year, Goldblade have always been talking loud but now they’re saying more than ever. ‘Rebel Songs’ – their fourth LP – is the finest yet and offers just what that uncompromising title promises: The adrenaline-and-Brylcreme rock’n’roll testifyin’ of old has been stripped away for a vicious, scathing assault on the piggy-eyed reptilian scum running the blood-splattered circus from boardrooms and holy places, caves and WhiteHouses.
Oi-inspired opener ‘Psycho’ casts the die, John Robb spitting out his rage and confusion at the madness of modern times: The rampant, unchecked greed, the blood spilled over worthless religious dogma, the seeming blind stupidity of the people, burying their heads in the sand, getting pissed; too scared or too dumb to face up to the ugly truth behind the smokescreen of lies and hypocrisy; dollars signs lighting up behind the crocodile tears in the cold, dead eyes of the well groomed and oh so plausible men on TV, next time a Super-Smart-Intelli-missile™ lands on a kindergarten by mistake. ‘Fighting in the Dancehall’ and ‘Cops and Robbers’ ram home the urgent wake-up call to the misguided thugs fighting amongst themselves and it’s not hard to guess who the “idiot son of a son of a gun” is in ‘Decline and Fall of Ancient Rome’. ‘Sick World’ and the Cramps-flavoured ‘Everything Is Porn’ even take in – good Lord – environmentalism. It’s not cool to sing about saving the Earth, but then little that’s worthwhile was ever ‘cool’ – Good taste, as Brother John is constantly reminding us, is the enemy of revolution.
So ‘Rebel Songs’ is an angry album then, but this is Goldblade’s turf, which means you’re never far from a party. Rebel songs, these may be, but John Robb’s rants are stuffed with bizarre humour and wry references and, like all the best rock music, at heart Goldblade are great pop. While their 1997 debut ‘Hometurf’ lurched violently from boisterous punk anthems to sleazy psychedelic soul and their last effort 'Do You Believe in the Power of Rock’n’Roll?' stuck largely to a pared-down punk blueprint, ‘Rebel Songs’ mashes up all manner of seemingly ill-matched styles into some of Goldblade’s biggest tunes yet with effortless grace: On the surface of it, these are megadecibel punk-rock anthems pure and simple, but scratch that surface a little and there’s all manner of lunacy going on here, from the gonzoid Dick Dale surf guitar on ‘Fighting in the Dancehall’ to the equally barmy sea-shanty guitar break on ‘Psycho’, the neo-Clash Ramalama of ‘Cops and Robbers’ and ‘Decline…’, and even jazz stylings on ‘Government Lies’. The dementedly twisting minor-key melodies lifted from Russian folk music, scattered liberally throughout the songs and rammed in your face with all the subtlety of a band of Cossacks bum-raping Muse’s Matt Bellamy with his own guitar – while playing Tetris – suggest Goldblade picked up more than a few thousand fans on their sold-out tour of Russia while ‘All We Got is Rebel Songs’ and ‘…Dancehall’ have enough angular pop moments amid the dirty Cramps grind and early Manics pomp and circumstance to make fashionable young turks like Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs (Goldblade fans to a man) smile.
But all the experimentation and ambitious genre-blending, all the right-on sloganeering, all the muscle and the bravura would mean nothing if these weren’t boss tunes that you’ll be singing in the wars and the protest marches yet to come. Goldblade deal in anthems: Moshpit igniting dynamite, custom-honed to set off a sweat-drenched frenzy from the colossal stadia of Moscow to the sweaty clubs of LA, to, er, The Witchwood in Ashton-under-Lyme.
Goldblade wear their souls on their sleeves and pull no punches – ‘Black Sheep Radical’ is about Che Guevara, for heavens sake – but never does it feel like they’re lapsing into heavy-handed cliché, because at the end of the day, the truth is the truth: Callous greed, lies, hypocrisy, scaremongering, warmongering, mob hysteria, cruelty, religious blood hunger and pretending not to give a shit because you’re scared of looking like a hippy will always be well snide and righteousness, justice, unwavering protest in the face of indifference, bravery, conviction, excitement and fun will always be well boss.
As will Goldblade.
Amen brothers and sisters.
9Tommy Mack's Score