The fairer sex have always been fairly thin on the ground in punk. With the notable exception of Debby Harry, Pauline Black, Siouxsie, Beki Bondage, Poly Styrene, Gay Advert and the Slits, it has largely been a musical genre dominated by acne covered, testosterone fuelled, overly macho blokes. But perhaps belatedly that is going to change with the advent of the 17 strong women's band (plus a few token lads) the pUKES.
Since they formed in an East London pub 18 months ago, these ladies have become something of a phenomenon, bashing out classic punk tunes on ukuleles. Around half of them had never played an instrument before joining the group, whilst others have been in bands such as UK Subs, Extreme Noise Terror, Noise Agents, Lost Cherrees, Rabies Babies and Social Schism.
Having seen them perform recently at Rebellion, I can attest that they are pleasing on the eye (male band members excepted), good fun and musically a more than competent band. Their highly contagious enthusiasm for all things punk and ukulele has landed them support slots with many of the bands who inspired them including Sham 69, Chelsea, Menace, Subhumans and Splodge.
However, for their debut release they have chosen an original song "WILL I LEARN". It's a unique, ukulele-driven, punk song fusing a blend of the Ramones and the Go-Go's. Overall they use 18 different ukes on the track, including sopranos, concerts, tenors, baritones and a banjolele. Not only that, but the MP3 will be available to download for free from their website www.thepukes.co.uk for a month.
They play Shoreditch1234 festival on Saturday 1 September and set to release an EP on Damaged Goods records later this year. They are also heading out on tour with Bad Manners in December, so if you fancy a festive feminine frolic catch them at your local venue. But try to avoid taking them on in a drinking competition.
PUNKS NOT DAD - MONKEY BOOTS
I had the pleasure of being invited along to the lunch party for this single a few weeks ago. The lads were in fine form and the evening culminated in a premier of their long awaited new video, that stars not only long time band groupie Lisa Rogers, but also classically trained thespian Peter Bowles.
God only knows how they manage to rope in such professionals to appear, but it may be a situation similar to Prince Harry in Las Vegas. Perhaps lead singer Sid Life Crisis has compromising pictures of Mr. Bowles having his groin strain attended to by the delightful Ms. Rogers, perhaps dressed similarly to Barbara Windsor in Carry on Nurse! If you purchase the single, I am sure they can provide you with a copy.
Actually the track EP also contains a cracking version of "I Can't Stand It" by the Specials, just to show that despite all the tomfoolery, there is actually a decent band at work here.
So go on, for the princely sum of £1.78, you can own a footwear related piece of musical history, that will bring you closer to your middle aged parents at a stroke.
Next month they fulfill one of their lifetime ambitions
by performing with TV Smith (he of the Adverts fame) at Cardiff's
Clwb Ifor Bach. So you can check them out personally if you live in
the Principality. But before then they pop up at the Bestival on the
Isle of Wight, generally annoying the locals and making a nuisance
of themselves. I wouldn't have them any other way!!
ALL THE YOUNG - ANOTHER MIRACLE
I first heard of these Stoke based, four-piece indie rock band on the release of early single "Welcome Home. They seemed to have the same rebellious streak that catapulted Oasis to fame and put out a succession of high tempo, anthemic singles.
Certainly things seemed to be moving in the right direction for them as they toured with Morrissey, Kaiser Chiefs and the Courteeners. They were even confident enough to give away for free a whole album's worth of material from a live show at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow.
Then the 'proper' album came out in April of this year and my enthusiasm waned. It was over produced with each song being re-recorded and overlaid with a lush string arrangement. Gone were the snotty nosed street urchins that produced cracking sing-a-long songs to be replaced by buffed, note-perfect musicians, suited and booted to attract the more conservative record buyer.
The worst thing is that they still write boldly good songs as attested by new single ANOTHER MIRACLE. It's just for me the fire and intensity of their earlier work has been drained out of their recordings.
However, judge for yourself and I'm sure if they can (or are allowed to) recapture that initial rebellious streak they can go on to fulfill the potential that was so evidently there not that long ago.
Right then, lets get the obvious stuff out of the way first.
Lead singer Martin Muscatt's elder cousin is the Clash's Mick Jones. I guess to an extent this is a double-edged sword. Whilst it will have garnered them an amount of free publicity, people will have certain preconceptions about the band. But ultimately it's only by listening to the band that you can judge for yourself.
I was fortunate to get a copy of their debut 2nd long player "Building Ten" a few months ago and can attest for the fact that, whilst vocally there is a distinct similarity in the twang of Muscatt and his cousin, the band definitely have a unique sound that owes nothing to nepotism. I said previously they have more than a touch of the late 60's Stones in them with their late night, whiskey soaked feel of a back room club in New Orleans.
This new 5 track EP continues in the same vein as the album with punk-blues numbers based very much on personal experience. I think special mention should be given to Allison Phillips on drums, who often gets overlooked in the whole Muscatt/Jones debate. Also the powerful saxophone added to 'Long Gone' by X Ray Spex's Dave Wright, who assists periodically on their live dates.
So a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the bands impressive catalogue of releases. And before its release on October 1 the band are giving punters the chance to try-before-you-buy by getting a free download of early tracks 'Monks, Punks & Drunks' and 'Lucy' by going to their Facebook page.