Saturday, May 11, 2019

Clinic - Wheeltappers & Shunters

Coming from a similar angle to things as Mystery Lights except that there's is a distinctly English take on the Voodoo Punk paradox. This is the first Clinic  album for six years but it's plain from the opening notes that it's business as usual in their particular operating theatre. Wheeltappers & Shunters, the title of their eighth album is a clue to where they're coming from here, a reference to a mid Seventies British TV variety programme that only those versed in an upbringing from that decade on these shores would be clued into.

The cast list of the show reads like a Who's Who of music hall showbiz from its golden age. Alvin Stardust, Jim Bowen, The Dubliners, The Three Degrees, Lonnie Donegan, The Krankies, George Melly, Nana Mouskori, Roy Orbison, The Dooleys. That Clinic should be choosing to honour these fallen heroes now is an indication of their project. For Wheeltappers & Shunters is a guided tour of the spooked funfair that is Brexit Britain in 2019.

Ade Blackburn is your host for all this. Though I made a comparison in terms of its musical DNA with Mystery Lights, as Clinic pick the meat from Punk and Garage bones in a similar manner, Wheeltappers & Shunters also claims spiritual kinship with The Good, The Bad & The Queen's magnificent Merrie Land from last year. For what better way to understand British ghoulish present but through a trawl through its haunted past.

The record commences with the familiar clang of the pub bell announcing last orders but it's clear we're all invited to the lock in. From this point on it's very much Clinic as usual. There are no fresh avenues explored here, the band carved out their particular spooked and cavernous sonic territory a long time ago. 

Clinic have probably done better albums than this but it's perfectly serviceable and anyhow it's great just to have them back. In many ways they've become a British alternative cult institution all these years down the line. Wheeltappers & Shunters is a more than welcome diversion from turning on the TV and being obliged to endure the news again. Respect.

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