Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Mick Mercers Review 2nd Jan. 2005


Pity the poor Goths who never saw UK Decay, or experienced the kind of days which may never come again, where, with a fully functioning music media, Goth started and grew effectively in the UK because small amounts of coverage were enough to get a hard working band sufficient exposure to spread their name throughout the country. If their records were any good they could be playing to thousands within months. Word-of-mouth was like a plague back then. Bands who ventured abroad spread their reputation further, and assumed a larger form onstage, as confidence inflated their imagination. While nobody was bigger than Adam & The Ants in the underground channels, UK Decay were one of the biggest bands behind them. If they had mainly concentrated on the UK they would eventually have got onto a bigger label, as they were quite capable of headlining the largest venues.

That’s the nostalgia over with, as we start a New Year, knowing full well the possibilities/limitations our bands face these days, but I started that way because someone raised an interesting point with me recently, asking who was the most important band – Bauhaus or UK Decay? The answer was the latter, in every way imaginable. Bauhaus were simply an excellent band who had the music but needed to wait to discover an image, then went their own way. UK Decay had the sound, didn’t give a toss about image, and had the Punk ethos, so they helped bands along the way, understanding the communal aspect. (Prime beneficiary of their support, for instance, was Sex Gang Children, but many benefited.) UK decay were cool, as well as responsible.

You know, there never was a more tumultuous band as UK Decay in full flight either. This CD finds them at a time when Eddie Branch’s bass and Steve Harle’s drums together would blow away any Goth band on the planet today, and with Spon’s guitar guile, their style was like an angry fountain. Songs which grew and developed in ugly, violent environments (they hardly ever had time to rehearse!), these are also celebratory items, which the crowd love. ‘Unwind’ twists handily into the exuberantly scummy ‘Werewolf’, and ‘Dresden’ is on fire (oops!), while ‘Barbarian’ and ‘Barbarians’ are dollops of ratty noise, the latter made skittishly acceptable by Harle’s flashing finesse. ‘Sexual’ still shivers in a masterful way, with a grizzly bass/drum rope ladder across which Abbo plunges and bucks, as guitar arrows fly in all directions, and ‘Stagestruck’ is a slinky bass-boosted bastard, with a hearty, howling punch.

‘Rising From The Dread’ is a lolloping spree of rusty sparks, ‘Twist In The Tale’ cavorts with wordy jousting and ‘Unexpected Guest’ has one of the greatest bass openings ever, out of which the rest crawl into a punishing roaring, semi-commercial style, where the macabre intensity festers beautifully. ‘Testament’ is as mesmerising now as it was then, with gaseous guitar drifting over rhythmic barbed wire, on which Abbo is caught, roaring happily. Then they flip backwards and give us the early ‘Black Cat’, charming by comparison, before they pound to a finish in Hammersmith with the brittle ‘UK Decay’, a Pistolian ‘For My Country’ and another ‘Unwind.’ The bonus tracks included then come from St. Albans, four months earlier. These are more faded in quality but include a blunt ‘Duel’, frantic ‘Jerusalem’, jerking ‘Mayday Malady’ and a rumbling ‘Stagestruck.’

UK Decay split up far too soon, when Abbo went off to form the thunderously dull Furyo, and with no CD reissues, due to difficulties between the band and Southern Studios agreeing on what to do, their reputation has dwindled disappointingly. Many people just don’t appreciate the essential part they played in Goth’s birth, or how fantastic they sound. Now Spon has at least got everyone to agree this can come out maybe things will change and their roles as Dark Midwives will be recognised, as well as the quality of their songs. I have no idea as to what difference the re-mastering’ element makes, but the Klub Foot material is superb, while still not as exciting as they could be! Other releases should soon follow, including their sole ‘For Madmen Only’ album.

The single most important band in the initial Goth phase, these are your spiritual forefathers and, for once, respect is due.
(This limited edition version is only available to registered members of this site. Go into the forums for details. No set date has reached my ears for a normal release. I’ll let you know when I hear.)

Mick Mercers Review 2nd Jan. 2005
Purchase Details below
Presented by UK Decay Communities