Mad Caddies
Rock the Plank


3.5
great

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
December 31st, 2006 | 14 replies | 4,553 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome aboard the good ship Mad Caddy, and prepare to have yer timbers well and truly shivered ye filthy landlubber!!! YAHARRRGH, and such...

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

It was 2001, and the ska-punk boom of the mid-to-late 90s was tailing off. The scene leaders were going back to indie labels (Less Than Jake) or becoming less prolific (Reel Big Fish), and to make things worse, nu-metal was at its foul red-capped peak, so when underground ska-punk heroes the Mad Caddies announced the arrival of their imminent “pirate-punk” opus Rock The Plank, the world asked a collective “what the ****?!”

Thankfully, with a few spins of Rock The Plank, the “what the ****?!” factor remains, but in a good way, as the Caddies have yet again spliced elements from both the heavy and poppy ends of the punk spectrum, along with a hefty dose of ska, reggae, but also with the added the special ingredient of pirate-core, all to great effect. The variety of sounds on offer here is excellent, and nicely schizophrenic at times, but every song works, and no single part sounds forced by any means.

Commendably, the band haven’t turned every song into a full-on sea shanty, but the seafaring element is present in some form or another throughout the album. For example “We’ll Start To Worry When The Cynics Start Believing” is a bouncy skankfest, driven by some nice offbeat drumming and catchy rolling basslines, topped off with jumpy upstrokes on the guitar. Although the lyrics are about staying true to oneself, and don’t really delve into swashbuckling territory, the feel of the song invokes the mirthful image of pirates drinking and dancing about in the sun on the deck of a ship. Or maybe it’s just me… Either way, it never fails to raise a smile, which has always been the point of the Mad Caddies’ music.

However, the aforementioned song underlines the one real weakness of Rock The Plank. Read my description of the song again. What do you notice is missing? That’s right: the horns. It seems that they’ve taken a backseat this time around, not featuring at all in some songs, and much less prominent than before. There’s certainly none of the brass-fuelled freakouts that made songs like “Monkeys” and “Road Rash” so brilliant. However, there is the new addition of an accordion and Hammond organ on a few tracks and, as demonstrated by the previous year’s The Holiday Has Been Cancelled EP, Chuck’s vocals have improved significantly, running the gamut from a soft croon all the way to a gruff, almost hardcore-style shout. Admittedly, there are times when you’d be hard-pushed to realise that this is the same band that recorded Duck And Cover, and for some this may be a problem, but personally, I find progression to be a good thing, and Rock The Plank is certainly no less enjoyable for it.

Kicking off with the frantic punk rock shot in the arm that is “Shaving Your Life”, leading into the much more ska-orientated ode to pot-smoking that is “Mary Melody”, perhaps the song most reminiscent of the Caddies’ earlier material, the album gets off to a strong start. During the next half hour we get shiny happy nuggets of pop-punk like “B-Side” and “Easy Cheese”, the downbeat reggae-influenced “Days Away”, the surprisingly Strung Out-esque “Bridges”, and another frantic punk rock stormer in the form of “Depleted Salvo” with its huge chorus and vocal trade-offs and harmonies. More pirate-friendly is the one-two punch of “Chevy Novacaine” and “Booze Cruise”, the former featuring a guitar lead that sounds like it’s been taken straight out of a sea shanty, and the latter with another strong showing from the horn section. Despite the Strokes having stolen the intro riff for their “Juicebox” single, “Hound Bound rocks way harder than the aforementioned bunch of plagiarists ever could.

However, the two songs that deserve a special mention have got to be “Weird Beard”, and closing track “All American Badass”. The first is a full on sea-shanty that’ll put a right shiver in yer timbers!!! (Sorry!). Beginning with a evil yet jolly sounding accordion tune, slowly building up to the shout-along chorus, with subtle horn pieces here and there. Chuck does a commendable job of imitating a pirate voice, as well as that of a loose woman (or should that be “wench”?) the protagonists come across. I guarantee that by your second listen, you’ll not only know all of the words, but you’ll be raising at every greasy land-lubber about who isn’t screaming “WHOA-OH-OH-OH, RAISE ‘EM IN THE AIR, WE’LL KNOCK YER UP AND SLAP YER DOWN AND NEVER SEEM TO CARE!!! WHOA-OH-OH-OH, ANOTHER ONE FOR ME, WE’RE THE FILTHY VERMIN THAT’LL SET YOU PEOPLE FREE!!!” For a number that’s often derided as merely a novelty song, “Weird Beard” is incredibly catchy, and easily a highlight of the album (something that I can say without detriment to the rest of the album).

“All American Badass” is a spectacular combination of polka and horn-led punk which bears a striking resemblance to NOFX’s “Theme From A NOFX Album,” apart from the small matter that this is considerably more catchy and riotous!!! The lyrics aim some valid, yet hilarious criticism at steroid-abusers (“I thought you knew what steroids do to your drunken little pecker” being a particular highlight), and the kind of punk fans who like to beat people up at shows. This infectious punk-rock-hoe-down is in fact the song that the Caddies usually end all their shows with, and in this case, it brings an end to the proceedings of a fun and varied album.

If they have any sense, all fans of ska and punk and all their related genres should be rocking the plank with this pillaging, plundering, swashbuckling band of merry men.

YAAAAAARRRGH indeed!

3.7/5



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user ratings (37)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Catchthe22
December 31st 2006



95 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is pretty good. Mad Caddies have some talented musicians and they have been recorded very well, especially the horns. The highlights like you said are Weird Beard and All American Badass. The rest of the songs don't really stand out, but they aren't bad for the occasional listen.This Message Edited On 12.31.06

spoon_of_grimbo
December 31st 2006



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd say the horn players in the mad caddies are easily the most talented horn players around, and it really showed on duck and cover, which is why its a bit of a shame that they're not so prominenet on here, but still, it's a good album.

i noticed yesterday that there were no caddies reviews on sputnik, and since i went out and bought all their albums (apart from quality softcore, which i couldnt find but i've ordered), i thought id review them all over the next couple of weeks or so.

24.05.2008 - In a recent re-evaluation of my reviews, I've changed the rating for this album from a 4 to a 3.7, which rounded-off is a 3.5.This Message Edited On 05.23.08

Serpento
December 31st 2006



2351 Comments


Good review, I look forward to the other ones for the Mad Caddies.

I agree, their horn players are pretty much the most talented 3rd-wave musicians around, as are most of the band. It's too bad they were on the back burner here. Still, they're a really great band considering.

spoon_of_grimbo
December 31st 2006



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, i think its demonstrated best on "just one more" (the album after this one), they pretty much give everyone in the band a place in the spotlight, and all of them make great use of it without showing off. that's another great thing about the caddies: even the complicated or fast or crazy parts are never just about showboating, its always really catchy and full of great songwriting.

Intransit
December 31st 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=n00b of grimbo]I'd say the horn players in the mad caddies are easily the most talented horn players around[/quote]
...
Wait, more idiocy?
[quote=Serpento]I agree, their horn players are pretty much the most talented 3rd-wave musicians around[/quote]
...
Those might be the two dumbest statements I've read recently on sputnik. While they may be decent horn players, saying they are the best around is just absolutely retarded. Streetlight Manifesto's horn section is just infinitely more complex and fits the music better. Also, Big D and The Kids Table blow this band out of the water when it comes to musical arrangements of the horn section.

Also, to Grimbo, if you think they are the most talented horn players around, maybe you should pop in Frances the Mute. That is probably one of the singularly best brass performances out there.
Your review was good, and this album is good. This Message Edited On 12.31.06

spoon_of_grimbo
January 1st 2007



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i can't comment about the bands you mentioned canyoneer, because i haven't heard much of their stuff, but from what i've heard, the mars volta especially, they're not really my cup of tea to be honest.

however, i did mention that i wasn't judging that accolade entirely on skill and how complex the arrangements are. i think the fact that the caddies horn arrangements are ALWAYS catchy, and never out of mood with the song, is a very strong point. its all well and good writing an incredibly complicated horn arrangement, but its a whole other skill making it fit well with the song and be distinctive, and this is one of the great strengths of the caddies horn section. however, we are all of course entitled to our own opinions, and thanks for the comments.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 1st 2007



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just noticed the "noob of grimbo" comment there. that really was unnecessary, and a cheap, misinformed dig at someone whose been around on this site for almost three years longer than you, not that im trying to be elitist about it.

we had a difference of opinion, which is fair enough, sputnik is here to discuss music after all, but it should be civilised discussion, not childish name-calling.

Your comments about those other bands have actually made me think about checking them out again, (hell, there's several bands i've not gotten into the first time round, but grown to love), which is always a good thing. all i'm saying is, we're all music fans here, but no1 can possibly have heard every band in existance within a genre. just chill out a bit!This Message Edited On 01.01.07

Serpento
January 1st 2007



2351 Comments


Note I didn't say horn arrangements, but their horn players alone. Streetlight and Big D have great arrangements, but their individual brass players can't compare (though Big D comes close.) Also note I said third-wave musicians, because it's impossible to 1) compare between genres, and 2) compare anything to FtM. Nice job making the most inept comment in a while.

Thanks for playing. /house

spoon_of_grimbo
January 1st 2007



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice one serpento. by the way, i've never understood what the terms "third wave" "second wave" etc. mean in terms of sound, i always figured they referred to subsequent revivals of ska, but im not sure, can you help me out here?

also, my review of "the holiday has been cancelled" EP is uploaded now if you're interested.

Serpento
January 1st 2007



2351 Comments


First-wave is The Skatalites and such, much more influenced by jazz and reggae. Second-wave is pretty much The Specials and, to an extent, The Toasters; slower but more instrumental. Third-wave is everything after that, to be blunt.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 2nd 2007



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ah rite, thanx for clearing that up for me. i take it that third wave takes in all sub-genres like ska-core, ska-punk, etc. then?

Zebra
Moderator
January 2nd 2007



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

[quote=Canyoneer]Those might be the two dumbest statements I've read recently on sputnik. While they may be decent horn players, saying they are the best around is just absolutely retarded. Streetlight Manifesto's horn section is just infinitely more complex and fits the music better. Also, Big D and The Kids Table blow this band out of the water when it comes to musical arrangements of the horn section.[/quote]

The Mad Caddies blow Big D out of the water as far as horn sections go, they even give Streetlight a run for their money. Unfortunately they decided to cut back on the horn playing which is foolishness. Duck & Cover is where it's at, that's where the Mad Caddies horn section shines.


Intransit
January 2nd 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really dont see that at all tbqh. I think Mad Caddies playing is alot more stylistically varied, but in terms of complexity, I surely think Big D and Streetlight win by a long shot.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 3rd 2007



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

what i was trying to say earlier, is that you can't judge merely on complexity. some of the most beatiful songs in the history of music have been incredibly simple in terms of composition. the caddies have this knack of making every horn arrangement sound catchy, fun, and fitting with the song, regardless of complexity (or lack thereof).



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