The fabulous FUNGALPUNK website posted the following review of the Urban Dogs' latest album Bonefield...

ORIGINAL REVIEW ON FUNGALPUNK - CLICK HERE

Archived below though!

 

URBAN DOGS - BONEFIELD

An acoustic mix from a band that is deemed a side-project but for me have released some darn decent material over the years and are as valid as many units out there. This offering cuts it back to the sonic skeleton and what we have is equal contribution from that workaholic 'erbert and UK Subs frontman Charlie Harper and that much under-estimated string/vocal chap Knox of The Vibrators. Both donors are committed punk rock zealots who, no matter what, can't help but dabble. I didn't know what to expect from this stripped down offering but it wasn't something as effective and convincing as what I have got. The other Urban Dogs CD's (Urban Dogs, No Pedigree, Wipe-out Beach) have given me much pleasure and it seems I have a whole lot more before me as this choice CD will be played over and over again. Let's have a closer look at the offerings shall we and try our hardest to come up with due positives and negatives.

Questionably the most famous and critically acclaimed track of the entire UK Subs output is a song called 'Warhead' and one must appreciate the brave move of opening an acoustic album with this great, great number. Hands up, I expected a faux pas (as a Subs fan for more than 30 years I will not be palmed off by anything other than the real deal) but what hit me, full in the lugs, was a construction founded on subtle insight, musical know-how and just all round quality application. The essence is altered (but the main vein of the song runs with the bold, virulent blood we adore), the initial tinklings are crisp and genuinely emotive, the rise to the first vocal application choice. Charlie lays on the oral cream with concentrated belief and in we are drawn. Knox echoes the finish of each verse line and the chorus is as we know but with a new sensation. The relevance of the lyrics is amazing, the song washes over us and for an ardent admirer of this exceptional number I can only give this one a big, fuck you grade of A double plus. A superb stall setter and for all those who are curious the message is 'Don't be' - this is worth the value of the album alone. 'War Baby' has always been a magnificent tune and an Urban Dogs delight but this is something special. Plucked forth from a catalogue beyond compare the choice here is perfectly precise (albeit yet another risk) and the daring duo just fuckin' nail it. I can't remember an opening brace of songs to have such an impact as these and for all their subtleties and careful strums the effect is amazing. This war damning tune is a classic and hits the targeted heartstrings with the acoustic ambience created as accurately as we could wish for. Believable, dripping with a pang, overlain with waves of thought - oh man this is just beautiful.

2 crackerjacks and 'Hobo's Lullaby' continues the high standard but is a more dirtied and bluesed up affair with Mr Harper going back to his roots and squelching the old mouth organ (now that does sound sexual) and Knox donating some sweet string seasoning. Not as instantaneously ensnaring as its predecessors but after a few spins the laid back nature of this sub-western drift is impressive. Good one dudes but not quite as good as the pursing genius of 'Not In My Name'. An original cut decrying the blood and the battle and surely a rabble rousing rant that should generate a rebellion against the unnecessary bloodshed out there. Each puncturing string cut digs into the attention with a resonance only further enhanced by the vocal passion. One of my favourites of the whole album and considering the quality level that is a bold statement. From one of the strongest to one of my least favoured (it happens tha' knows) with the claustrophobic heaviness of 'Summertime' seeming almost vulgar compared to what has transpired thus far. It ain't bad but is a touch clouded and slightly overbearing. The song however is a necessity as it parts the cleaner cut waves and rouses the eavesdropper into adopting a stance of deeper scrutiny. Maybe my verdict of 'just OK' is a little harsh but immediate comparison is a bastard to overcome. Talking of which...

'Tomorrow's Girls' is indeed the gem (little play on words there) we all utterly adore and it seems only a short time ago when I picked up this baby on blue vinyl and played until every word was drilled into my soul. This lighter version is...now get this...an improvement I feel and it does seem this entire concoction was made for an acoustic make-over. The chug of the wires, the deliberate overall effect and the familiarity of the famed tune make this yet another stand out moment. 'New Barbarians' is another Dogs oldie and in bare truth was never a favourite of mine. A bit too chanted for me but...on this evidence perhaps I was wrong. Life is indeed injected into another old dog and the extra spice, new found passion and overall feel good vibe isn't lost and captured for everyone to hear and get enthused by. The jerky strums and shouts of 'hey' urge us to indulge and enjoy and that is what I bloody well do - over and over again. 'Move It On Over' wanks the Hank and comes up with a flourishing orgasmic spillage filled with relish and mouth-watering low slung melody. Both players seem at home during this flame-grilled flare up and this may be the most arse-kicking song of the lot. A real mover that will not have the spirit doused and one (yet again) to wake up to or wind down with (now that is a compliment). Back to the blues with a swaggered waltz and a harmonica laden journey with a lazy, hazy melodic muck out earning the thumbs up from this inspired reviewer. Glazed with traditional touches, seasoned with spirited sonica and delivered with a focussed influence this is one to groove and move to with all liberation of limbs an essential. Get down and boogie dudes - another peach.

'Cocaine' is a rusted busk with an unwashed feel you get bitten by (or is that the fleas). It is a somewhat typical song with a thread heard a million times before but as part of this solid package the sheen of the structure is heightened and I am utterly taken. It's one of those songs that has that one man band feel, reeks of a bare-arsed honesty and is as rough as delightfully fuck yet wins my favour - oh yes.

The only limp lump in this gathering of bloated sonic bunions is the plodding 'Swamp Dog Blues' which just idles away and is nothing more than a tail dragging biography of Knox. As a piece of entertainment it doesn't do anything for me, as a curio it works. Don't expect too much from this one but take it as it is - a tale not really a tune. 'Dragnet' is an old Vibrators song with plenty of relish and gusto and it punches its weight here with a great riff, Weedon-like interference, Knox' slightly sleazed gob style and a purely insistent vibe (bah slipped in the pun there). Lucid, glossed up, slick and etched with a nostalgic memory how can one stick the boot in at this final hurdle? We shimmer out with all kudos in tact and I immediately reach for the replay button.

So what a marvellous offering. Rekindling many a flame, delivering from a different aspect, sticking to the DIY ethos and keeping all areas enjoyable and loaded with sincerity the two guitar gangsters on trial get off with a sentence of 'Not Guilty' and go forth with high recommendations from this Fungal twat. I love it and am lost for words although I do understand some may just not 'get it'. I have got it, and do get it and insist you so the same - a precious moment in the annals of both artistes - congratulate em' when you see em' - they bloody deserve it ya know.

 

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