THE CRUNCH - Down By The Border

When I were a lad, Supergroups were the bane of my life. It was bad enough, in those pre punk days, having to hear prog-rock bands like Yes, ELP and Uriah Heep anyway. But then they'd go and form a side project like Asia, comprising members of the aforementioned sleep inducing acts.

Punk was to blow that all away...or so I thought. But in two shakes of a safety pin you had members of the Sex Pistols and Clash popping up in bands like The Greedy Bastards and The Vicious White Kids. The more things change, the more they stay the same!


Latterly, with the demise of guitar based music, Supergroups are somewhat of a rarity. However when a CD lands on your doormat with a band comprising members of The Clash, Cockney Rejects and Sham 69, even the most jaded of old punks (like me!) are going to sit up and take notice.

Bizarrely, the band came about because of a book. Lead singer Sulo Karisson - the gravel voiced front man of blues-rockers Diamond Dogs - was compiling an anthology of interviews with 70's rock and punk stars, about their lives today. To give the Stockholm based 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 it was that he was joined by Terry Chimes (aka Tory Crimes) original drummer with the Clash and Dave "Kermit" Tregunna of Sham 69 and Lords of the New Church. To complete the line up they roped in, one of the founders of Oi!, Mickey Geggus of the Cockney Rejects.

Needless to say the night was a success and, within no time, the motley crew had reconvened in London's Berry Street studios. Ten tracks later, talk of being merely a side project evaporated and The Crunch became a fully committed rock band.

So, enough of the history lesson, what the do the first two tracks to surface sound like? Well, both offerings have more than a little flavour of Clash about them. Is this because Sulo's gravelly tones bear more than a striking similarity to Joe Strummer (RIP)? Or because the man who provided the backbeat for the Clash's eponymous debut album, is doing a similar job here? Frankly I don't know or care.

Definitely not a balls out punk number, opener "Down by the Border" has that melodic hook reminiscent of Strummer/Jones at their best. Combined with a Duane Eddy guitar sound, it has more the feel of a power pop number, than ear shattering punk. Whilst not the most obvious track to introduce the band, perhaps it was chosen for the rallying cry of "Let's take it to The Crunch!". Two minutes thirty seven of harmonic heaven I'd say.

"Gangster Radio" opens with a guitar intro than tips its hat to "Another Girl, Another Planet" by the Only Ones. However, it quickly settles into another slice of Clash-like infectious passionate punk rock, complete with screaming guitars and close knit backing harmonies. Given the commercial drivel that inhabits the radio today, unfortunately I can only agree when they say they will "never make it to the BBC". However, bands like The Crunch represent what music is really all about, not being in it for the adulation and riches, but only to be given the chance to "sing from the heart".

A well know punk band one warned you should "never judge a book by the cover". However, I think it's safe to say that The Crunch's album, slated for an October release, is going to be worth a listen. Given the standard of these two taster, and the fact they are going to include classic cuts from their considerable back catalogue, you can count me in.