The Mekons 

Punk Rock

What a long, strange trip it's been for the Mekons, and for saying that, I'll probably get dope-slapped by each and every one of them. For more than 25 years the Brit punkers have baffled fans, critics, and record-company suits alike with their relentless and heartfelt leftist philosophy, not to mention their penchant for jumping genres like a black widow spider on a hot plate. The Mekons are the only band left from the class of '76 -- hell, even the class of '77 -- to have stayed together all these years, but is it right for them to rerecord (and resell) their earliest songs when it seems to fly in the face of everything they've stood for all these years?

Punk Rock borrows heavily from the band's debut, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen -- do we really need to hear live rehashes of such diamonds as "Teeth," "Work All Week," and "Trevira Trousers" performed by the now middle-aged and middle-class Mekons? Can the art-school poverty and youthful enthusiasm of "Never Been in a Riot" and "32 Weeks" (from 1979's Fast Product) be re-created now that the Mekons are parents and homeowners? Not surprisingly, everyone plays their instruments a lot better now, but then again, the whole thing about punk rock was that it didn't matter how technically proficient you were, right?

The songs on Punk Rock recall the days when America had an archconservative corporate puppet as president. Sound familiar? That's precisely the reason these songs still ring true -- in their original versions. It's a shame to see a band of such integrity sink to slumming.

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