London Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Persistence has its rewards, though not necessarily very good ones....

PERSISTENCE HAS ITS rewards, though not necessarily very good ones. Leeds’ Mekons have been around for 20 years, ploughing their lonely agit-pop furrow, and while fellow Airedale anarchists Chumbawamba hit the big time, wider recognition continues to elude them. Still, as the continued enthusiasm of these two records demonstrate, they don’t seem that bothered.

‘Me’ is a stirring collection full of Fall-ish bluster and playful lyrical intrigue about sex, egotism and hard drink which shows a group with an admirable command of rhetoric and sarcasm. ‘Come And Have A Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough’ is a sardonic twist on the old football terrace standard, while ‘Whiskey Sex Shack’ and ‘Tourettes’ make a suitably understated stand against the viler forms of sexism without being didactic. Pretty jolly stuff, then. 6/10

But while The Mekons are a Leeds band, their singer Jon Langford is a Welshman and a very angry Welshman at that. ‘Skull Orchard’ is Langford’s irate musings upon his dispirited, neglected homeland; a record which celebrates Welshness against a backdrop of closing mines and factories and grinding poverty.

That he has succeeded in lacing this weighty subject matter with humour and more than a few stirring tunes, like the elegiac ‘Tom Jones Levitation’, makes ‘Skull Orchard’ all the more an achievement for a man who has been living in America for the past five years.

“The land of my fathers,” as Dylan Thomas wrote. “My fathers can keep it.”

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