I've been looking to writing this one up. The first album from Lancashire's (Ramsbottom's to be precise) own ukulele punk outfit - UkePunk, with Punk Police.UkePunk are a trio consisting of Paul Davies (UkePunk himself, songwriter and uke player) with Andy Moore on Bass and Murf on Percussion. All three performers provide vocals, with UkePunk taking the lead.
|UkePunk - Paul Davies centre. Credit: UkePunk|
I've been looking forward to it because (and he may not know this) since before I starting this site I've enjoyed watching Pauls videos on YouTube. In fact, the band go back to 2009, and have supported the likes of Stiff Little Fingers, The Fall and UK Subs creating quite a following on the punk circuit. I've enjoyed all of it.
As I have said before on this site, not only am I a punk fan, but I am always drawn to anyone who chooses to play a ukulele in a style that steps to the side of 'the norm'. Most of his stuff is (and all of this album is) self penned, and that is also something I always take my hat off to.
So on Punk Police we have 10 tracks of punk uke goodness penned by Davies. We open with the title track 'Punk Police' in which the band rally against those in the uke community who choose to rally and rant against those who don't 'DO' punk in they way they think it should be done.... "We were at the Free Trade Hall where we wrote the book of rules".... Sounds like the ukulele world generally to me.... It's a spiky opener that sets the scene perfectly.
After Imaginary Girlfriend (a creepily fun take on internet porn.. ("I know you'll never disappear from my screen") is my next favourite - James Bond - a superbly witty and fun tribute to the Bond myth, complete with a tip of the cap at the end to Barry Nelson (Wikipedia if you don't know!).
Throughout the album we have a mix or rants against the establishment (I'm A European, Mister Mister), unrequited love tales (Girl Across The Road) and vignettes on past times and today (Thrill - a song written by Paul just before the IRA bombing in Manchester and another favourite that has shades of the Blockheads, The Specials and others to me - perhaps a touch of the Arctic Monkeys if that doesn't offend too much Paul!).
Northern Girls Are Gravy, aside from having the best title on the album is a bouncing salute to disco fumblings with the Northern Girls of our youth - "She only lived round the corner, I used to fancy her mother".
Then a final couple of songs before the end where we move from straight up punk to punk dub reggae and I love them both. Hate to mention comparisons again, but I am sure Paul won't be too upset with reflections of later era Clash. Who wouldn't want to be compared to Joe Strummer? This Is The Business has a superb groove hook, and Mister Mister just drives along complete with some great keys work by Damien Heakin. Ska punk!
The album ends with Frack Off, his track in support of the anti Fracking lobby which is standing up against the hugely controversial industrial drilling works in his native Lancashire amongst other places. It's a great rallying cry and something I know is important to him. Starting and ending in a honky tonk style, complete with tinkling piano, the band ramp up the punk with a great chant mid way. It's a great end to the CD.
Overall, the album does what every good punk album should. There are those who (still..) class punk as something that meant 'no talent'. Anyone who knows good punk realises that there is some great musicianship out there. This album has just that - a very tight band, good tunes, excellent lyrics and I have really enjoyed it. It's not really a uke album and I like that. Its a punk album.. with a band. Whilst the uke is there, it never tries to be in your face and it's all nicely balanced.. It's not the longest album in the world though at just under 33 minutes, but, yes, its a punk album...There have been far shorter ones!
And as the cover states, 'NO guitars were used in the making of this album'..!
For those tiring of the noodly uke style, I'd encourage you to grab a copy and do check out the band site at http://www.ukepunk.com. Recommended.
1. Punk Police
2. Imaginary Girlfriend
3. James Bond
4. Girl Across The Road
5. I'm A European
7. Northern Girls Are Gravy
8. This Is The Business
9. Mister Mister
10. Frack Off
|Paul Davies - credit UkePunk|