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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

It'saxxxxthing has a Matlock overdose.


In an ongoing attempt to publicize the forthcoming gig that my girlfriend and myself are promoting here's some more Glen. Now c'mon. You can't have too much Glen can you?
Normal services will resume after the 18th with the exception of a review.
This is where I should put in an ironic smiley face, but I don't know how to so just assume I'm painting one on my own face.

Glen Matlock is a bit of an enigma.
He has penned the music for some of the most iconic tracks to ever come out of the UK.
He was involved in a band who it could be argued managed to artistically and socially alter the course of history.
He has participated in musical projects with his peers that on paper looks like a whose who of the rock world. From playing with Johnny Thunders to Primal Scream to The Faces he is the guy who has been there and bought the t-shirt.
Yet who is he? Where is his larger than life rock star persona.
It's not there and that's why he is an enigma.
Someone once described him to me as the John Major of punk. A grey man who you would be hard to pick out of a crowd.
Now I don't agree with that at all, but I can partially understand where the comment is coming from.
My personal take on Glen Matlock is that he is workmanlike. Someone who considers that the music comes first second and third, and that's not to be construed as a critical comment.
He doesn't need to colour his hair shocking pink to write a classic song.
He doesn't need to backhand one of the paparazzi to garner column inches.
He simply lets the music do the talking and for me that is more than enough.
When the first Philistines album “Hard Work” was released I was bowled over with it. Here was a band who had all the swagger of a modern day Faces. A band who were instantly recognizable as British, but with enough transatlantic appeal to ensure more global interest would be on the cards to.
The songs were there, the musicianship to, and the vocals from Gerry Foster fitted like a hand in a glove.
Even now when I give it a spin it has exactly the same impact that it did back then.
That it wasn't the huge success that I expected it to be was a bit of a shock.
All of this came flooding back to me just recently. In all honesty I had forgotten all about it.
Between all the years between its release and the present much water has swept under the bridge and sometime, somewhere I must have stopped playing it and then as it so often happens it was out of sight and out of mind.
Even when it was discussed recently I drew a blank on it. That is until I gave it a listen again and my enjoyment of it all came flooding back.
For me it's a forgotten classic. One of those albums that barely get a mention and when you play it to people they can't believe that it wasn't picked up on by the critics and fans at the time.
Later on Glen dropped the Philistines tag and for his next release stepped up to the mic to take on lead vocal duties for the “Who's he think he is when he's at home?”
Unfortunately even getting Steve New on board wasn't enough to pull the album out from under the shadow of the Sex Pistols reunion.
Lost is the shuffle would be an apt description of what happened. Just as it should have been getting the big push Glen was back with his estranged band mates singing the songs from the past and leaving his baby to fend for itself.
It didn't fend well either.
It's rare for anyone to say much about it at all and it isn't a band album. It was initially a bit disappointing as it fell far short of having the instant “oomph” appeal of the Philistines d├ębut, but over time it grew on me and apart from a mix that could have been better there's not a lot across the breadth of the album to criticize at all.
Without the Sex Pistols acting as a distraction we maybe wouldn't be retrospectively saying “shoulda, woulda, coulda” about it.
It wasn't until 2000 before Glen would dip his toe back into fronting a band and he did so with a revamped Philistines and the “Open Mind” album.
Still assuming lead vocals he also had the assistance of a certain Mick Jones featured as a guest musician on a handful of tracks for this release.
The draw of a Sex Pistol and a Clash member should have ensured that every aged punk would have been dusting off his or her Seditionary rip off t-shirt and hobbling down to the nearest record buying emporium to snap it up.
By this time though he was flying under the radar though, and churlish as it seems I was quite pleased that the stereotypical punk aficionados didn't pick up on it as their critical appraisal would have served to do little more than undeservedly belittle the direction he was heading in.
For some if it isn't a retake on God Save the Queen then it's worthless.
It's a myopic view, and a sad reflection on how punk has crystallized into a rigid style and sound.
That Glen doesn't kowtow to the expectations of people who are mired in a moments past glories is admirable.
“On Something” that came next wouldn't so much revisit the sound of Open Mind, but more so reinforce that this was the direction he was taking and if you wanted along for the ride then fine, but if not, then that was up to you.
By now Glen Matlock & The Philistines had cemented a sound of their own.
A classic rock sound that avoided the worst pitfalls that the rock/metal fraternity usually find themselves tumbling into.
Real working class rock and roll with a bite.
More recently with their Born Running release they have taken that sound across the Atlantic and eased comfortably into slightly colouring it with a hint of blue collar Americana, albeit without losing their own sense of identity as a band.
It's a solid release that wont do Glens reputation as a songwriter any harm at all. He's still got it, and maybe, just maybe, others will be ready to play catch up and reconsider their opinion that he is the grey man of rock, as there is nothing bland an one dimensional about what Glen Matlock and the Philistines do.

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