Back in the deep distant past, many more years ago than I care to remember, I worked in the murky world of nightclub security. Working a variety of clubs in the North East, one particular den of inequity stands out. This particular club, every Sunday night, hosted a rock and punk night where I and one other guy, a tough biker of some note, had to deal with some of the hardest drinking, speeding off their tits society misfits you’d ever be likely to meet. Added to the mix a DJ who took great delight in playing a rock song then a punk song then a rock song, with the disparate groups skirmishing as one left the dance floor to be replaced by another…every two or three minutes!
What made the night though was the perverse pleasure the DJ got from the last song he played at midnight every Sunday. A song the rockers said was a rock song and one the punks claimed as theirs. With the inevitable consequence being a maelstrom of Newkie Brown bottles, motorbike chains, DM’s, fists and table legs inflicting untold chaos for 2 minutes 45 seconds as the night came to an end. What was the song? Well, it was of course Motorhead’s Ace of Spades!
I tell this story for very good reason as I listen to Renaissance Men, the new album by The Wildhearts which is hitting my eardrums with a clashing energy of styles; like Ace of Spades, much more than just rock and punk. This is an album that throws together country blues, English folk, melodic pop and thrash metal in a discordant but compelling collection of ten phenomenal songs. With leader Ginger’s hard hitting and visceral lyricism underpinned by some of the heaviest riffs possible Renaissance Men speeds along, burbling like a biker’s ride, all raw power and explosive attitude.
And the riffs. Wow, just wow. At points reminiscent, especially on the chopping chords of track 5 Diagnosis, of the great Malcolm Young, this is an album that delights in all its balls out rock, unashamedly loud and proud. The classic Wildhearts line-up, with CJ, Danny and Ritchie joining Ginger, have seemingly spent the ten years since the last album, chomping at the bit, held on the brake and clutch, wheels spinning and rubber burning waiting to release horses on a quarter mile top fuel sprint. Something this album doesn’t fail to deliver.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay The Wildhearts here is that if this album had been around back in the day when I was working that rock and punk night it would have been one that would have filled that dance floor at the end of the night. And chaos would have ensued; blood, beer, sweat and who knows what else would have been spilt. More importantly than all that though is that I can imagine a certain Mr Kilminster sat at the bar of that Valhalla lounge, bottle of Jack low slung at the hip, watching and listening with pride. And I’m sure Lemmy would also be thinking, yeah these boys have got it, my work here is done, long live proper rock!
Renaissance Men is released on Graphite Records on 3rd May. To pre-order visit http://smarturl.it/RenaissanceMen