Remember Agent Blue? They emerged from Stoke-on-Trent at the arse end of 2003 and made definitively English punk rock records about sex and drugs and throwing stones and stuff - and then they just... disappeared.
As 2006 opens its eyes and learns the words "mummy" and "daddy" they're back snarling and growling with an album that was initially recorded in 2003, yet sounds like it could have been conceived at any point over the past thirty years. Re-e-e-spect.
Punk. It's a dirty word but someone's got to use it. It's all about a time and place, says granddad Jones and uncle Lydon. Fair play to 'em - they created it after all. And then Americans with Toni & Guy lacerated spikes and big shorts found it and diluted it down to a weakened cup of Robinsons barley water. So why has it taken five blokes from the truckstop of the A50 to inject some much needed passion and life into its cash orientated genre? And why has it taken so long for this record to emerge?
The latter is largely down to contractual issues between record labels. The former? Nothing more than the Brits reclaiming the torch and ultimately the crown, simple as that.
"I was too busy being bored," declares Nic Andrews before declaring "..you sold your soul to the new school devil" like Tommy Teaser in hell's playground. It's all mortar, cement and a halo of loud guitars from here on in. The raucous thrash of Cooper Temple Clause on amphetamine E that is 'Sex, Drugs And Rocks Through Your Window' you've all heard, likewise the skitpunk stutter of 'Something Else'.
Covering the cracks of Britpunk is what Agent Blue do best though, and if 'Monster Monster' doffs its baseball cap to the fraggle age of Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Mega City Four, then 'Crossbreed' sounds like the missing link between ska, punk and baggy that circumcises Definitely Maybe and Nevermind in their tracks. 'THC' and live favourite '341' meanwhile are no holds barred, go-for-the-throat punk rock. No messing around, no fretwanking or embarrassing political lyrical asides, just straight down the hatch. Not that Agent Blue can't measure up to the muso contingency either, as the closing six minute epic 'Gear' almost creates a new genre ("prog-punk") in the process.
If there's any criticism or drawback with A Stolen Honda Vision it's that the naysayers will say "it's past its sell by date", "from another time", whatever. But all good music is timeless, and in A Stolen Honda Vision, Agent Blue have shown that fashion is no substitute for passion and determination.
7Dom Gourlay's Score