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  1. Lee and the Glory Fires have skipped labels and now find themselves on revered label SubPop. They’ve also souped up their sound, mixing in some of the MC5’s fire with those hot damn southern riffs. They are finding a definite style that will bleed over into their next album, a bigger pinch of Punk Rock is being added to the mixture. 

    The result is, this album is bloody ferocious!

    Opening song “The Company Man” hangs off a riff equal parts Detroit and Tuscaloosa and concerns itself with Alabaman steel bosses who are “Putting profits in the black with businessmen on Sunday, Monday morning, beating prophets black and blue” the subtext s plain to see. I must sit down with the lyric sheet again and de-cipher more of what’s being said.

    And on it goes like that with no let up. The title track compares the current state of the USA to the Reconstruction period after the Civil War; “We Dare Defend Our Rights” points out the irony in the State motto of Alabama; “Flags!”, well I’m sure you can work it out. The only let up you get is the start of “What’s Good And Gone” and final song “Dirt Track” which both verge on laid back compared to what’s gone before, but by the time we hit the chorus the fury is back.

    My one difficulty with this album is it sounds bloody terrible! The whole record (this one on luscious Yellow vinyl BTW) is distorted as though everything was turned up to 11 and then they pressed the record button and hoped for the best. Maybe it’s what they were after but it means there are some great songs hiding in there under the mess and the aural mud. 

    The Company Man - https://youtu.be/unwBMVXA0UI

  2. Another album on lovely coloured vinyl (this one is purple) and one that should really be discussed after you’ve read what I have to say about their next but one album (“Youth Detention…”, where I first encountered them). But as chronology doesn’t work like that you’ll have to wait a couple of days, so here goes.

    I was lucky enough to tour the USA on a number of occasions and, while there, some of us developed a liking for Country Music and the music of the South, the folk music of immigrant America perhaps. This will manifest itself in this collection with records by Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams and in a more recent incarnation the Drive-By Truckers, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell and the marvellously monikered Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires.

    Lee Bains comes out of the punk rock scene in Birmingham Alabama and is a former member of Tuscaloosa Southern Rockers The Dexateens. NPR radio in the US described he and The Glory Fires as “punks revved up by the hot-damn hallelujah of Southern rock”. This is their debut album and fair reeks of the South, from Bains drawl to the slinky Skynyrd-like guitar lines. It passes in style from straight Skynyrd style Southern Rock (“Ain’t No Stranger” and “The Red Red Dirt Of Home”) right through to Country, “Reba” is a straight up Country ballad and “Roebuck Parkway” is a beautiful slice of acoustic Americana, with a hint of their Punk past sprinkled along the way. If you’re familiar with the Drive-By Truckers we’re in the same ballpark (to appropriate an American idiom) with songs about and rooted in the South and it’s problems. 

    There is as much religion in these song (it’s said the title of this album stems from a mishearing of the spiritual “There Is A Balm In Gilead”, The Balm of Gilead being a Biblical medicine that can heal sinners) as there is liberal righteous ire…that feels appropriately Southern Gothic…

    There Is A Bomb In Gilead - https://youtu.be/_QUPj9CBpD4

  3. Ahhh the difficult 2nd album. There is nothing much here that veers too far away from what The B-52’s were doing on their first album. It’s also known that many of these songs were in their set as far back as 1978, 2 years before this release, and were held back from the first album as they wanted their 2nd to be strong too. But…

    It just doesn’t have the sense of riotous fun there is on the first album, the songs don’t leap out and shake you by the shoulders like before. This might be due to any number of things. The surprise of hearing them for the first time has gone for starters, it’s not like hearing music from another planet anymore cos we’ve now heard music from another planet. This is not something I usually worry about unduly but the production here isn’t as lively as previously and Keith Stricklands drumming at times sounds more like a drum machine than a drummer. Props to Keith for being so spot on but at times it doesn’t have the natural feel that gives it some swing.

    None of this is saying that “Wild Planet” is a bad album, it’s not at all. “Party Out Of Bounds” could easily have opened album number 1 and not been out of place. I absolutely adore “Private Idaho”, it’s one of their best and without doubt “Give Me Back My Man” is right up there in The B-52’s output, a stunning single when it was released.

    Private Idaho - https://youtu.be/2n_Tg8iHwZ8