Sunday, 3 August 2008
MERCENARY SKANK - The Best Band You've Never Heard
The 80’s. Thatcher’s free market economics seemed to unleash a free market of music. From yer anarcho punk, Oi, New Romantics, Goths, Rockabilly, Glam Rock, Post Punk and Power Ballads. You name it and everything was up for sale. How did Mercenary Skank fit into the picture? Well unfortunately they didn’t really, which was/is a real fucking shame and travesty, cos they were/are one of the great lost bands of that era/error. From Rhyl in North Wales to London, they came marching with a mission to blow the city away with their fire brand Rock’n’Roll. The mainstays of the band were Vocalist Scratch, and Guitarist Andrew Tunnicliffe, and they meant business with every song they wrote; Andrews music being inspired by Scratch’s poetry, if there was any justice their partnership would have been recognised as the Strummer/Jones of the 80’s. The band only released two 12” singles No More Dancing and Work Of Giants, both brilliant pieces of work, that defied any genres. I saw ’em live a couple of times, once with anarcho upstarts The Assassins and another time with Rock’n’Roll Glamsters The Dogs D’Amour, other bands like Sigue Sigue Sputnik and The Stone Roses found themselves opening for the skank and their live experimental chaos. The band recorded a couple of BBC Radio Sessions and a TV appearance for HTV’S Rock Solid, one of the radio sessions didn’t go down well with the producers, who were expecting a performance of the bands new, but never released single Ghosts; a slick, haunting , and brooding love song, but instead they got a track called Gulliver’s Thunder Machine; an uncompromising lyrical attack on state power , musically it’s a guitar wall of sound, (similar to some of Primal Screams Xterminator album, but 20 years earlier) Their TV appearance wasn’t without controversy either, with the band only being allowed to play one song due to Scratch causing a security alert by waving a replica 3.8 revolver on stage and the band being wasted on speed and whiskey. That was then and this is now, and just recently a shoe box of old Mercenary Skank recordings and memories surfaced on the South coast of England. A myspace page was set up and the past has now become the present. The songs are all there for you to download and enjoy, but just for a sample here’s four of the radio session tracks, including the afor mentioned Gulliver’s Thunder Machine, a beast of a song, which like the rest of ’em hasn’t dated one bit, they’re the most positive songs of hope and despair you’re gonna hear for a long time, they still sound fresh and relevant 20 years later. If Mercenary Skank were up for sale they could have been the skuzziest stadium rock band ever, but alas we got U2 instead, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “It’s a funny old fucked up world” and it always has been! Will it continue to be? Well that’s up to us! In the mean time do yerself a favour click here for the Radio Sessions and take a trip to the Mercenary Skank myspace page for the singles and more unearthed, unreleased recordings. You wont regret it!
Gulliver’s Thunder Machine
Man on the news with petroleum eyes /Grins like a maniac whilst all around him fries / Down through the ages-tell you what I’ve seen /Total control with the Thunder Machine / Used it in Belfast, used it in Iran /Send thanks to the government man / Call out the riot squads to vent their spleen / And don’t forget to bring your Thunder Machines /We do it fast, we do it clean / Everybody runs from Gulliver’s Thunder Machine /New methods for the LAPD / Heard about them on the BBC /Imagine Dirty Harry in Soho Square /Blasting away without a care / We do it fast and a little bit obscene / Everybody runs from Gulliver’s Thunder Machine / Daily Mirrors keep reflecting The Sun / Telling people go and have some fun / White regimes keep the newsreels clean / No time to lose fetch the Thunder Machines / Last pit in the valley is closing down / Better cordon-off the whole damn town / Put all the trouble-makers behind a screen / And give them a blast of the Thunder Machine / Protect your home and the neighbouring hills / Cures all ailments, it cures all ills / Clears the air like nothing you’ve seen / No time to lose bring the Thunder Machines / We do it fast, we do it clean / Everybody runs from Gulliver’s Thunder Machine / We do it fast and a little bit obscene / Everybody runs from Gulliver’s Thunder Machine//