From Punk to Skunk LP
Al Gregg was a kid with punk on the brain, playing guitars for Three Minute Warning and Four Minds Crack before hooking up with The Wall. As punk declined Al took a bit of a break, later playing with the Psycotropes and now, Caroline Alexander.
This is all quite a bit of a journey and, while the inlay card spells it out in a rather detached third-person biography, the CD itself tells the story more succinctly in musical terms.
The opening section contains the wiry punk of Three Minute Warning, with a fair degree of similarity to Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash. The bass takes on all the qualities you’d expect from an elastic band and the guitars are tinny, but it’s actually all very well played.
‘Member of Parliament’ has a riff that hangs somewhere between the old Batman theme and the old Spyhunter computer game soundtrack, and stands up well to some twenty years of dust-accumulation – still managing to hint that something shiny lies beneath the rasping and faded recording.
The Wall take over for the sixth track, ‘When I’m Dancing’ and it’s immediately apparent that there was a bit more cash available for recording time. There’s a bit more bass in the mix and Al really gets a chance to show what he can do on guitar, adding hooks between the chorus and verse and adding prominent rhythm at all other times.
The next section, belonging to the Psycotropes, is a testament to the invention of electronic instrumentation and it’s abuse in the later part of the 20th century. Throughout ‘Henhouse’, dodgy drum machines, fake scratching and vocal samples stomp all over the actual guitar and bass, which roll up a fine Blues Brothers style riff.
‘Nice’ is a better effort with the bass forcing it’s way to the front a bit more, the guitars picking out a sliding, bending path and a heavily distorted vocal. It’s a bit more of a song than ‘Henhouse’ and sensibly leaves the drum machine at the bottom of the mix.
The final section is undoubtedly the finest. The guitars finally hit the highs that were hinted at all the way through the record and to top it all, some fine drumming, fat bass and tough-glass vocals step in to keep the quality high.
Stand out tracks in this section include ‘Don’t Need You’ and ‘If You’, which both mix Siouxie Sioux, Toyah Wilcox, and Skunk Anansie to excellent effect.
Al Gregg has been in the mix for quite some time and has definitely proved his worth adding essential quality to a host of punk, rock and metal bands. This record takes you all the way from punk to skunk, then rips up your return ticket for use as a roach.
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