Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Wildhearts - "Never Outdrunk, Never Outsung: PHUQ Live" (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/07/2016
Label:  Round Records Records |
Pledge Music

 
 
Ginger was and is one of the best songwriters the UK has produced (not of the 90's, just generally). He has written many, many great songs, for instance “Woah Shit, You Got Through”  which is played venomously here and let us not forget the man writes great riffs and the melodies here are also stellar. Overall then, is this an essential release? No, not when the studio album is available. Is this an excellent reading of that record in the environment where The Wildhearts are best experienced? Yes. One for the fans, for sure, but also one for anyone who ever wondered what the band are about. It turns out that they are about great songs, great riffs and, above all else, great rock and roll.
 
 
 
“Never Outdrunk, Never Outsung PHUQ Live” album track listing:
 
1 - I Wanna Go Where The People Go
2 - V Day
3 - Just In Lust
4 - Baby Strange
5 - Nita Nitro
6 - Jonesing For Jones
7 - Up Your Arse You Fucking Cunt***
8 - Woah Shit, You Got Through
9 - Cold Patootie Tango
10 - Caprice
11 - Be My Drug
12 - Naivety Play
13 - In Lilly's Garden
14 - Getting It
 
The Review:
 
 
The Wildhearts return with this full live rendition of the now classic/revered “PHUQ” album, 20 years after its release. Ginger capably backed up by CJ, Ritch Battersby and Jon Poole (so the majority of the classic line up, then). The record itself pulls together versions of the songs from several different gigs, but the record has the feel of a one gig release; the audience is in full voice throughout and the band plays very tightly.
 
The beauty of live records is often that they show the band in the way that they actually sound- shorn of studio trickery. In cases of bands like The Wildhearts, AC/DC and Motorhead this is assuredly a good thing. For “PHUQ” live, you have a guitar on the left, one on the right, the vocals and the rhythm section on the centre, and it sounds fantastic!
 
Ginger's vocals are great; a little more raspy these days and a little more measured, as befits a man of his age (surely no older than 35?!). To underline the point that the band's second album is their best, the opening triple threat of “I Wanna Go Where The People Go”, “V-Day” and “Just In Lust” receive rapturous applause and are greeted like the classic slices of hard rock/power pop that they are. The album continues impressively with “Baby Strange” (for less than a minute) and then “Nita Nitro”. “Jonesing For Jones” reminded me how the band could write great slow ones when they wanted to (see also “Skychaser High” and “Geordie in Wonderland”). It also reminded me of all the lurid stories in the music press over the years about the drugs, the fighting, the rehab, the suicide attempts and so on. Sadly, it is these stories which have created a legend that has at times overshadowed the music and the band.
 
Regardless of music press tittle tattle, Ginger was and is one of the best songwriters the UK has produced (not of the 90's, just generally). He has written many, many great songs- some of the best of which are played here- but that list perhaps does not include interlude “Up Your Arse You Fucking Cunt”. That said, it does include “Woah Shit, You Got Through” which is played venomously here. My only criticism of “PHUQ” was that perhaps it was a little overlong (I never got through my tape copy on the bus journey to and from school in full). There are certainly some tracks, such as “Cold Patootie Tango” which are extraneous. Indeed, it could even be said that some songs are overlong (“Caprice”), but when the riffs are this good? Perhaps not.
 
Ginger always wrote great riffs, that's for sure, and the melodies are also stellar. The latter part of the album is pretty strong; the excellently titled “Naivety Play”, “In Lily's Garden” and “Getting It” are all better than “Be My Drug” to my ears (I just never liked it that much- sacrilege to some). Is this an essential release? No, not when the studio album is available. Is this an excellent reading of that record in the environment where The Wildhearts are best experienced? Yes.
 
One for the fans, for sure, but also one for anyone who ever wondered what the band are about. It turns out that they are about great songs, great riffs and, above all else, great rock and roll.
 
“Never Outdrunk, Never Outsung PHUQ Live” is available to pre order here
 
Band  info: facebook

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