Share THE DESPONDENTS - The Despondents (Dirty Water Records)
Alas, it’s time to damn with faint praise yet again. Essentially sound musically, the Despondents hail from Leeds in the UK. They say they are rebelling against the overly trendy and fame obsessed scene that surrounds them. Well, good on them. They play high energy rock and roll without a twist, a gimmick or a fad anywhere in sight. File under meat and potatoes punk rock. You can stand in front of this band and raise a glass of beer in a solidarity salute. Or not.

Let me tell you a story because I’m fond of telling stories and this CD doesn’t merit anywhere near the five hundred words I like to put into a review. I remember back in 1979 going to the Moonlight Club in West Hampstead to see the UK Subs, the least interesting band to play live at the Roxy yet the only one still playing the circuit regularly. They too were essentially sound musically but I found little to be excited about. I didn’t buy their records and spent a fair bit of effort taking the piss out of their singer, Charlie Harper. This is because, fundamentally, I am a bit of a cunt.

Supporting the Subs was an unknown bunch of kids called the Innocent Bystanders. They fell about the stage, pretending they were the Sex Pistols. The singer, a 16-year-old Sid Vicious clone, had a temper tantrum midway through the set because none of the rest of the band wanted to play Wild Thing which apparently was his favourite song of all time. Amateurish, unoriginal and completely hilarious, they stole the show. I thought they were brilliant but I never saw them again. They probably split up after one performance but for years I’d go to see different bands who called themselves the Innocent Bystanders in the vague hope it was them. It never was.

The Innocent Bystanders were a fantastic rock and roll band. No records. One gig and I still remember seeing them thirty years later. The UK Subs played everywhere and I saw them many times. I can’t remember what they even looked like now. Half the leather punks in London had the UK Subs painted on the back of their leather jackets but, realistically, the band was as dull as dishwater.

Unfortunately, the Despondents and the UK Subs have a lot in common. I just listened to their self titled CD from beginning to end and now that I come to write this review, I can’t remember a single song. The music was a sexless angry roar and maybe that is how you like your rock and roll. Maybe you’ll paint “the Despondents” on the back of your leather jacket. Maybe you’ll at least buy the t-shirt. Frankly, there is no accounting for taste. Maybe you have to see them live to “get it”. I don’t know. It went right over my head and, frankly, after listening to this, you’d have trouble convincing me to cross the road to check them out. - Bob Short

 

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