THE CRUNCH - Busy Making Noise

When a CD arrives from a band including members of Sham 69 and the Cockney Rejects, it's fair to say that most people would have their money on it containing three-chord, Oi! inspired, street anthems. But in this case they'd be very wide of the mark.

THE CRUNCH came about only because of a book launch in Stockholm. Diamond Dogs lead singer Sulo Karisson was compiling an anthology of interviews with 70's rock and punk stars focusing on their lives today. To give the launch party a bit of bollocks he struck on the bright idea of rounding up a few of his subjects to provide some musical backing. So after a few phone calls, Terry Chimes, original drummer with the Clash, Dave "Kermit" Tregunna of Sham 69 and Mickey Geggus of the Cockney Rejects joined him for a strictly one off show. However, things went so well that by early 2013 they had committed a single to vinyl and made plans to produce a fully fledged long player. Which brings me to... BUSY MAKING NOISE the debut long player from the band.

And if the thought of another "punk" record doesn't float your boat, I can vouch that this album actually contains 14 slices of bona fide rock music. Whilst it definitely contains the hall marks of punk, they don't just limit themselves to narrow musical boundaries and indeed, at times, the band sound as close to Mott the Hoople, as they do to Menace. From the opening salvo of first track "Busy Making Noise" the bar is set high with wall of sound guitars, thunderous drums, cracking riffs and hook laden songs. This number sets out the bands manifesto in that each has "never been a saint and I sure had drink or two. But I've always been true to my heart". Given that the backbeat is provide by the original sticksman for the Clash, such emotional outpourings are understandable and completely valid. For a feel good opener its difficult to top the bravado and sheer exuberance of the chorus "I've really got no choice. I'm busy making noise with the boys". It deserves to be a single.

And without a pause for breath "Street Flavour" crashes out of the amps, with Geggus' infectious guitar making it impossible to keep your feet still. Next single "Fire Again" follows rapidly, bolstered by Chimes metronomic, machine gun, drumming, with an almost balalaika type guitar solo to boot. Sweeping guitars herald the intro of their first single "Down by the Border". With its melodic hook reminiscent of Strummer/Jones at their best, and a Duane Eddy guitar sound, it has more the feel of a power pop number, than ear shattering punk.

Just to show they are no one-trick-ponies the tempo is slowed right down for the anthemic "Yesterday's Boys and Girls", as Sulo appears to reminisce over times gone by. Slowly, from a piano only intro, it gains momentum through intertwined guitar melodies to the track‘s soaring crescendo. Similarly "Floodlight" is slow and even bluesy, whilst "Looking for a Blaze" could easily be a Bruce Springsteen number. "Remember Me Like That" has the same flavour of "Straight to Hell" by Chimes former comrades, The Clash. On which theme, "Matter of Time" would not have sounded out of place on Joe Strummer's final solo album "Streetcore", matters made even more convincing by Sulo's similar gargled-with-gravel vocals. Break up ballad "A Lit Bit of Grace" sees them joined by Swedish female vocalist Idde Scultz, to prove this is not just a testosterone fuelled, boys pissing contest of an album. I thinks its safe to sat therefore the bands musical versatility can not be questioned

But for me its the guitar driven numbers that showcase the band at their best. On "Gangster Radio" they rile against the rock free zone that national radio has become. "Right About Now" starts with the rolling thunder drum intro used by Stiff Little Fingers on "At the Edge" and, if I had to pick a favourite track, album closer "Runaway Son" is the type of firebrand music that sadly seems to be missing from the current musical landscape. Loud and proud, it also benefits from an appearance by guitarist Geggus' brother Jeff "Stinky" Turner. Not just punk, but proper rebel rock!

When reviewing CDs it can, at times, be difficult to glean many positives from the earnest efforts of musicians far better than me. Who am I to deride their offerings when, after many months spent in rehearsals and touring dingy venues, it yields a recording that is less than ground breaking. Thankfully, no such white lies are required here. This album is bloody brilliant and hasn't been our of my CD player since it arrived. Not officially released until October 28th, make a diary note to get your self an early Christmas present then!