Wednesday, 11 August 2010

David Wrench & Black Sheep - 'Spades & Hoes & Plows' (Invada Records)

Stretching four songs over 65 minutes, this album is guaranteed to provoke a reaction.

Casting aside the synthpop mischief of his last record, Welsh maverick Wrench turns to radical folk, with its cast of clubbed peasants, lynched priests and mutilated strikebreakers. His sleevenotes are worth the asking price alone.

Backed by Black Sheep – a mob of musico-political subversives marshalled by Julian Cope - Wrench tackles revolutionary ballads with an irreverence that’s perversely sympathetic. War drums march funereally beside blasted guitars, while Wurlitzers and Mellotrons summon ancient melodies to eerie half-life.

At their best – as on the gripping ‘The Blackleg Miner’ - the group’s outsider theatrics force the listener to confront the Otherness of political struggle. Through them, we glimpse a world in which collective action means “freedom and blood on our bread”, not a Rick Astley singalong in a public space.

Blood Red Sounds rating 8/10
This review originally appeared in Venue.
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