Death Of Guitar Pop - '69 Candy Street' Album Review
1. 69 Candy Street
2. Suburban Ska Club (Feat.Neville Staple)
3. Welcome Back
4. Sweet Sensation
5. Mike The Landlord
6. Song About My Bird
7. Rickety Old Train
8. Trivial Talk
9. Modern People
11. About A Boxer
12. Whatever Gets You Outta The House
13. I Don't Believe In Magic Anymore
Death of Guitar Pop are a couple of Essex Likely lads, inspired by the 2nd wave of Ska, and in particular, Madness. Oliver ‘Silky’ Hookings and Jonny “Top Kat” formed the band after doing the circuit playing Indie Pop. Silky had written a little Ska ditty called ‘Rickety Old Train’, shot a video and uploaded it onto youtube. It gathered a lot of interest, so uploaded more online releases and interest grew. So much so that the band embark on a successful crowd funding campaign which funded their debut album which they released on their own label ‘Ska Club Essex’. You can see that they are hoping to start the 4th wave of Ska, by just looking at the cover. It is reminiscent of ‘The Specials’ album. Plain white background, DOGP shot in monochrome and the black and white checkers. The number 69 is also synonymous with skinhead culture, ‘The Spirit of 69’ before the racist element hijacked the skinhead image.
So have they succeeded?
The opener is the title track, ‘69 Candy Street’. It starts with a choppy guitar, but not quite a rocksteady beat. This is a Pop ska song, with more than a little feel of Britpop. It has a beat and hook that gets your feet going. It starts Blur and then morphs into a Madness style track, along with off mic shouts.
There is an unmistakable Ska beat going throughout ‘Suburban Ska Club’ featuring ‘the original rude boy’ Neville Staples with a typical Neville introduction. This is more like the Two Tone track. ‘Skinhead Reggae’ is the hook on this track. It has organs, horns and a choppy beat. This is a standout track and was the second single to be released.
‘Welcome Back’ is a nice poppy track. Jonny makes use of his accent, Mile becomes Myal and Smile is Smyal. It is a nice singalaong song that sticks in your head and that is probably why it has just been released as the third song from the album, with a video directed by Inbetweeners star James ‘Jay’ Buckley.
Everyone loves a classic and all the Two Tone ska bands did a cover or two. DOGP chose to cover ‘Sweet Sensation’ originally by The Melodians. They have done a great job of it, with a real rocksteady vibe to it. The Hammond organ outro is a nice touch.
‘Mike The Landlord’ is one of those songs that really paints a picture of ‘Mike’. The lyrics describe an old fashioned geezer. ‘Yeah he’d do anything for you, just like his old man. He stands still while the world is moving forward, going somewhere he don’t understand’. With a touch of irony this song has a nostalgic feeling.
‘Song About My Bird’ might be inspired by tracks like My Girl, but this might not impress a few rude girls. Again, it has a more Pop vibe to it, which may not appeal to the purists.
‘Rickety Old Train’ is the first Ska song Silky wrote, and the first single released by DOGP. There are a lot of songs about trains in original Ska. It starts with a piano and horn gently playing then the choppy guitar riff kicks in with the full horns. It’s the first time I have heard ‘Wasteman’ in a Ska song. I like the way it slows down, goes a little 80’s and then morphs into full Reggae with ‘ Ana man say Choo Choo Rickety Old Train’ This is another standout track for me, as it is both classic and original!
‘Trivial Talk’ is a song with multiple personalities, although the back beat is Ska, it seems to develop into an almost New Wave track. There are hints of Gary Numan in places, and then towards the end it goes a bit Blockheads.
Modern People, starts with a bass, and the bassline will bounce your speakers throughout the track. There is classic echo on the drums and horns. It reminded me of a modern version of a track you might have found on a Greensleeves Sampler.
I think that the album should have ended here, as the final four songs are not Ska, but more like a nod to Silky and Top Kat’s past musical endeavours. Don’t get me wrong they are good songs in their own right, but for me they seem out of place. Messheads’ is a singalong acoustic Britpop type about having to grow up. ‘About A Boxer’ is a full on Punk song. ‘Whatever Gets You Outta The House’ goes someway to getting back to the Ska vibe. The lyrics are fun ‘Sales of pie and mash and never ending pints of stout’ this again is more Britpop to me than Ska. It is however a good piece of storytelling. The album ends with a gentle ballad ‘I Don't Believe In Magic Anymore’. It is bittersweet, a retrospective sad song. It shows a different side to Silky’s vocals.
So have they succeeded?
I like this album a lot. It is not one for the purists, especially the last four tracks. DOGP have fused Britpop with Ska, but then again Two Tone fused New Wave with Ska, so maybe it is a modern take on Ska. It is fun, DOGP do not take themselves too seriously, so in that respect it is Ska. It makes your feet move and makes you smile. If they are getting noticed by Pauline Black, Neville Stables and the king of fun Ska Suggs then who am I to argue. I want to see them live, skank, smile and have fun with the music. I believe that the second album might be in the pipeline. It looks like Rickety Old Train and a Rickety Old Video, has led to crowdfunding a pretty decent debut album.
So yes I think they have succeeded.
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Review - Tony Creek