Vice Squad – “Battle Of Britain” (Last Rockers Records / Cargo Records UK)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed in 1979, Vice Squad are probably one of the few (if only) original English punk bands that continue to record and tour regularly. Fronted by the iconic Beki Bondage, whose visage graced every music paper back in the day from Melody Maker, NME, Sounds, Record Mirror to Smash Hits, and on a more socially conscious note was a teenage champion of animal rights long before it became trendy, Vice Squad have always put punk values first, right down to having their own label, no backing management and recording their albums in Beki’s south London flat! Written, recorded and mixed by lead vocalist / rhythm guitarist Beki and lead guitarist Paul Rooney, “Battle Of Britain” is true to its title in reflecting its steadfast determination and defiance in keeping to those ethics, and the 13 tracks here with titles like ‘Poverty Face’, ‘How The Other Half Lives’ and ‘Mainstream Media’ tell it all through poignant lyrics like ‘..disinheriting the meek, slyly killing off the weak..’. That said, this is no uncontrolled vent at the world, but rather a well-orchestrated campaign built around raw, super charged punk riffs that are undeniable in their ability to instantly hook you in through their pulsating energy, classy punk rock ‘n’ roll melodies that lure you in further and Beki’s own singing and cat purr growls that are simply irresistible! Completed by Wayne Firefly’s ballsy bass and Bongo Basterd’s smashing drums, there’s little doubting the punk aggression here but like I said, it’s the seasoned class and veteran prowess that makes the difference here. Exploding in on ‘I Dare To Breath’, Rooney’s roaring waves of nihilistic riffola smash into you as Beki’s gutsy vocals take control in building up to the ultra-catchy chorus made all the more anthemic through its hardcore background shouts and more stylish licks fired out by Rooney – awesome! With plenty of singalong appeal throughout the album, the punchy ‘Born In A War’ doesn’t hold back in its lines of ‘.. see how they treat refugees? That’s how they’ll treat you and me..’ along with its anarcho punk riffs that just steam into you as Beki leads the raucous charge although once again, it’s the hooks and melodies that really do the damage as well as getting the political message across superbly. For those who’ve forgotten the first rule of Punk, it’s that there are no rules and Vice Squad ably illustrate this on ‘You Can’t Fool All Of The People’, the album’s longest track at 4 minutes, and really gives the finger as it brings in violins and piano to add an epic weight to the heavy twin guitars as they shred and twist blending aggression with emotional depth impeccably. Indeed, you really gotta wonder what’s going on here cos punk rock has never been so dangerous.