Shocks of Mighty!

The Silver Bullet, London - 1 February 2014

"Re-casting rap’s self referential boasting as a fiery punk snarl"

[Gig photo]Before we start; a short disclaimer. I have known Veg (Ranking Bass) for over 30 years and he’s probably my closest friend. I’m also pretty much the band’s house photographer/ designer (although not the very fine flyer for this gig), video maker, and occasional shifter of gear. Now that I’ve cleared that up, you can read the following and make up your own mind about whether there’s any nepotism involved.

[Gig photo]Harking back to a time before punk meant muscle bound tattooed men bellowing like constipated mammoths, or skinny Americans in eyeliner whining about their ‘issues’, Shocks of Mighty! (Please note the exclamation mark, it’s very important) take their inspiration from the late ‘70s/ ‘80s punk scene when being angry and having a tune weren’t mutually exclusive.

The fact that Mistah Brown Selector (Vocals/ Guitar) is a well respected ska/reggae DJ adds another layer to the sound, but not in the clumsy way that can sometimes result when punk bands turn their hands to Jamaican rhythms. This is more organic; part of the DNA of the band, similar to the way reggae informed work of The Ruts and Public Image Ltd.

Standing out in a streamlined, lean set are For Bill, an emotional requiem for a dead friend with a heartfelt, uplifting Coming Up With The Sun chorus; Welcome To The Working Week, a sarcastic, Dexy’s influenced account of life on the bread-line; and Not Pretty, which re-casts rap’s self referential boasting as a fiery punk snarl.

They finish with ‘Camouflage’; a passionate tale of childhood friends separated when one of them is lost to the blank uniformity of army life (and death) with lyrics that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Jam’s ‘Setting Sons’ - “You went mad ‘round about 16/ You joined up, you were so keen/ They gave you a uniform, gave you a number/ You looked so smart, you dumb motherfucker”.

It’s the varied influences - from dub to rocksteady, ‘60s psych-garage to northern soul - that give the songs that extra dimension so often lacking in contemporary punk bands, but there’s also compassion and intelligence here (worn lightly- but at the heart of everything they do), which tempers their fiery raging against injustice.

A proper band with proper tunes and choruses, for people who remember when proper tunes and choruses still mattered.

Nick Hydra