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Reverend And The Makers
A French Kiss In The Chaos Julian Marszalek , July 22nd, 2009 09:42

With his vocal stance in opposition to the bloody folly that has been the Iraq War and his campaigning against the BNP, there's much to admire about Sheffield motormouth Jon McClure. A seemingly lone voice in a wilderness of say-nothing careerists who struggle to articulate their favourite brand of hair gel let alone offer a coherent commentary on the world around or the lives lived by their fans, McClure makes you pine for the righteous anger of Strummer, Weller and Bragg and the notion of rock'n'roll as protest. McClure, we can conclude, has his heart in the right place and we know which side of the barricades he'll be on; its just such a shame that his music stinks worse than a fetid canine corpse in the midday sun.

It's not that A French Kiss In The Chaos isn't packed with ideas – it is. The problem is, they're somebody else's. Let us count the ways... how about the done-to-death indie-dance interface that forms the backbone of this dreary collection? The default setting for white kids who don't actually like to dance (and no, that baboon lurch so favoured by Mssrs Gallagher and Brown doesn't constitute dancing), this stunning lack of originality holds no truck with anyone for whom Madchester was something that happened a long time ago.

And what's the point of the wholesale lift of War's 'The Low Rider' on the gormless 'Silence Is Talking'? What does it actually add other than forming the basis of this song? What's the matter Jon? Run out of concepts before you've even started? And why the smash and grab raid on The Electric Prunes' 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' on 'Professor Pickles?' It's like McClure had a lightbulb go over his head as he thought to himself, "Ahh...why not? No one's gonna know this is a lift from a 60s garage band!" The trouble is, we do.

Probably the most grating aspect of this whole mess is the hectoring nature of the lyrics. Another nod to someone else's (literary) work, 'Hidden Persuaders'' refrain of "you're free to do as we tell you" is little more than ham-fisted sixth-form politics at best. Where's the insight? The social observation? The lyrics that tell it like it is? Compare and contrast it to say, the idiosyncratic and righteous anger of Super Furry Animals' 'The Man Don't Give A Fuck' and the glaring disparity between the two is blindingly obvious.

At their best, protest songs have the power to provoke and galvanise but this sorry collection does neither. While there's no doubting McClure's sincerity, the fact that the medium fails to match – never mind carry – the message is too much of a missed opportunity and in these troubled times that just ain't good enough.