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  Zounds - The Redemption of Zounds (OVER 128)
By Andy Higgins submitted

I was really pleased to receive this 10 track CD offering from one of the most influential British bands of the 80’s so well done to John Esplen on releasing this on his Overground label. At a recent gig in Hebden Bridge I remember Steve Lake saying that his response to the oft posited question are Zounds a political band ? … was that Zounds are more of ‘a fuckin’ cry for help’ than anything overtly political. This statement hit the nail on the head for me in many ways – they sing about personal yet important current issues so in the Ochs’ tradition their songs could be rightly regarded as ‘topical songs’ – namely those not easily confused with bullshit. ‘The Redemption of Zounds’ (2011) is the belated offspring to the landmark ‘The Curse of Zounds’ (1981) bearing the same genetic markings within its DNA. With a line-up now featuring messrs. O’Donell and Gilbert (from the Evil Presleys) now deputising for original members messrs. Porta and Wood, from the artwork through the anguished vocal delivery to the clever lyricism this is still unmistakably Zounds in both style and form. Track 1 Cry Genie Cry has all the uncertainty and sentiment of ‘Did he Jump or was he pushed …’ as it reflects on the disconnections of modernity with its odd sense of inclusion/exclusion. Supermarche is a little more fast paced with multiple nods to consumerism, the wealth gap, and protestors in the square as is Make Love not War which has a fairly prominent backing vocals, something not conspicuous from the band’s earlier recordings. ´Another Roadside Attraction´ is a slow introspective lament from the perspective of the questioning child – as Nietzsche informed us ‘there are no facts only interpretations’ which sits well with the haunting yet innocent inquisitiveness of this song – I really like this one. The subject matter of Deportee is pretty self explanatory, focusing on the brutalisation and criminalisation of migrants however the final track ‘Waiting for The Clampdown Honey’ has become my favourite for a number of reasons both musically and politically. First up it says very little but in its own way communicates an awful lot. The prevalence for surveillance and the by the ‘function creep’ of modern technology bequeaths the general un-easiness caused and nagging feeling that things are not quite right and this is all wrapped up in the line ‘got nothing to hide, they say you got no worry’. The song’s brooding melody speaks a sense of foreboding and there is a disconcerting feel within the ramshackle and plaintive howl of the chorus. Language and the printed word never really do justice to what music expresses and conveys ….. and Zounds are a particular case in point in this regard. Within any composition the production, the melody and the tone of voice are all important ingredients in allowing the subversion of the lyric to connect. Experience demonstrates that these sentiments can easily be subsumed or unintentionally lost (as they were most obviously in the big battle-cry production of Springsteen’s Born In America which proved to be a curse rather than a blessing allowing the song to be murdered by layers of irony and recuperated by Cowboy Ronnie) but within the Zounds mix they combine to present Steve Lake as an authentic voice of despair and betrayal - - - undoubtedly a cry for help rather than a cry for war ! (9/10)

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