I spent most of my teenage years at a now demolished pub in Elm Grove called The Horseshoe. This was a haven for punk rock, heavy metal, hardcore, ska and hip hop groups.I was very angry when it was demolished to make way for flats, and less space in the owners wallet. Blame it on Edd were one of the most exciting ska punk band's who played there regularly, I felt as though I was in the presence of an amazing ska band, who could easily match most american ska bands who had caught the third wave of ska's popularity.
Blame it on Edd are not just a comedic bouncy pop punk ska band however, with metallic instrumentals, blistering guitar solos reminiscent of Bad Religion
and rhetoric socially aware lyrics. When this, thier second studio effort was released on wholesale, I was overjoyed. Expecting the band to gain some kind of recognition within the now waning ska scene. Yet even many fans of UK ska punk have still not heard this little known record, or taken in a Blame it on Edd performance.
The record opens with explosive and metallic 'Life Is a Sweatshop' mostly instrumental, this slowly builds up into explosive melodic hardcore, only occassionally breaking into a ska riff, betrayed by the bouncy bassline as a metal band for this song. The only lyric being ''Life is not a catwalk. Life is a sweatshop'' bringing the bands political rhetoric to the record, with the Clark's shoes reference to sweatshops and life leading the way for the rest of the record.
'Snorting Ajax' is a true punk rock reggae masterpiece, crossing between a thrashy punk rock riff, with a slow dubby beat with disgusted socially aware lyrics satirically and monotonously hanging over the top. Building to paranoid excitement and anger along with the songs shift back into hardcore. ''Sliced at the underbelly, of industry. Spilling out entrails, of corporate refugees. Pin-striped Exodus, on the M-25. I can see the glow of the city, like fire in the sky.'' This apocalyptic vision of British mandane mediocraty hits home hard, the visionary lyrics show the dark lost majority of the UK. Not seen since Subhumans
'The Day The Country Died'.
''What do you think is behind this recent increase in terrorist bombings"''
''Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless minority seems to have forgotten certain good old fashioned virtues''
The second strongest track on the record follows, 'Asylum Seekers Eat Our Donkeys' is a narrative song about the life of a closet racist and his growing paranoia. ''He's got a bad case of paranoia, thinks his naighbour works for al quaeda. Wait a minute! He can't be one of them, 'cos he hasn't got a turban.'' this great observational song can really speak to western listeners. Where muslims are met with either ignorant hatred, or patronising mock understanding. Mostly a hardcore song, with many ska breaks, this is the most urgent sounding, and required song of the record. A cry out for whatevers left of our civil liberties, as we strive towards a more American way of life. Something very important about this song that stops it getting too boring, is that its funny. The ironic observations of the song's subject, of ''that coloured bloke across the street'' and his constant affirmations that ''he's not a racist....but'', unfortunately, there are many fools in the world alike this character, so its good to laugh at them from time to time.
The seriousness lets off for the next few tracks, with amazing instrumentals met with less pressing subjects. Theme's such as the sex toy industry, hatred for Tories and general society. Yes, these are political themes, with observations Anti Flag
will be sorry they missed, but compared with the more urgent songs, these come across more for thier strong instrumentation rather than thier subject matter.
''Dead Men'' begins with a soft guitar tune, along with Cello (played by the bands usual drummer Edd) which builds up into one of thier heaviest hardcore ska songs. The imagery of the end times within the songs fuels the speed and urgency of the song. Building into the huge chant of ''Down above the deadmen, down above the deadmen, down above the deadmen''. Although weaker lyrically compared to other songs on the record, the structures and melodies defy the age of the band members at the time this record was written.
'Jackboots' and 'Mental Health' are two bouncy ska tunes about skinheads and nervous breakdowns respectively. The latter featuring a sample from the film 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest'.
'Newspaper Window', the final track of the record, plays like a more complete 'Dead Men' with more potent lyrics, and a spitfire pace making it an explosive hardcore / ska rant. The fast paced lyrics and twisting ska guitar chops race each over to the end of the song. Making it a truly epic piece of music, the subject of the song working well with the urgency of the song. The song is about lifestyle choices, crossing character realities of the 'straight' who has all the commodities along with a job, and the life of a poorer, yet more fulfilled person. Brilliant witty rhetorics such as ''I'm saving to buy a lifestyle'' and ''Sky TV DVD 21'' Screen screen, and video machine to watch it all for me!'' will stick in the mind for a long while.