22/04/2008

Pressgang - Fire (1996)

«I've long admired Pressgang for their ability to provide no-holds-barred folk-punk. And this is English electro-acoustic folk-punk with a capital "E" and a capital "NGLISH," the kind of waggish onslaught on tradition that is definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact this album may very well redefine the genre. I am mystified by the lack of attention Fire! has received in both the overseas and domestic press. This edition of Pressgang is sans the fiddle of Imogen Gunner, returning the band to its testosterone-fueled roots. It's as if they have stripped down the sound, become leaner, but cranked up the volume.
The "Cutty Wren" starts things off, droning in on bass hum and accordion before Tony Lyons' frenetic pagan drumming takes over. The ancient tune is invested with all sorts of urgent energy, and you can tell that lead vocalist Damian Clarke is poised at the microphone with all sorts of illicit treats in mind for the rest of the album.
"Take a Jump" is magnificent, topical English folk with an irresistible reggae backbeat. Pressgang have always excelled in writing songs whose lyrics have the timeless ring of seasons and magic, and no song on Fire! disappoints in that regard.
The band reworks "Hard Times of Old England" into "Hard Times," a screaming modern funk-rap, replete with Ye Olde recorder break. It's a coup for mining the tradition in the punker's idiom, and high marks go to Cliff Eastabrook's thundering bass work throughout Fire! But Fire! is not all wham bam thank you ma'am... "Bad Bread" (concerning ergot, a fungus that is the source of LSD, infecting a village's bread and driving the hapless folks crazy) and "John Knox" display Pressgang's acapella bent. These are rousing enough outings in their own right, mysterious breaks in the midst of righteous Englishness.
On the instrumental side, check out "Sherrif's Ride," with its enthusiastic yells and aggressive accordion, drum, bass, and guitar attack that captures all the roving speed of law and order in the dead of night.
But nothing can prepare you for the sheer genius of "Merrily, Merrily." A lengthy song of the devil, "a worm in his mouth and a thorn in his tail," this is conceptual art-folk. "What d'ye lack?" asks the devil during his monologue to the listener, enticing us with a list of dark deeds. But remember. "Everything has a price...". A stirring example of Pressgang at the height of their powers, "Merrily, Merrily" closes out the CD with fiery menace indeed. Even with repeated listenings, Fire has not lost its spark. » (Lee Blackstone, Rootsworld)

Official Site: http://www.voxpop.demon.co.uk/pghome.htm

Link in comments

3 comments:

Radu said...

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cbchris1984 said...

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Kev said...

Excellent sounds. I have seen Pressgang a few times & they never fail to please! Thanks Radu for the download link. Pressgang are back in action. Check out their gigs June to Oct 2010 at - http://www.myspace.com/pressganguk