Fear and Whiskey!
- Fear and Whiskey is today's eMusic review of the day!
Review by Robert Christgau, eMusic
An early punk band returns and helps invent alt-country.
Although the likes of Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs loved their early
albums, the Mekons' most widely admired work eight years after they
convened in punk-era Leeds was still the 1978 single "Where Were
You?" It wasn't until 1985's Fear and Whiskey, self-released on their
U.K.-only Sin label back when imports were hard to find, that their
legend launched worldwide. Susie Honeyman's fiddle was enough to slot
the album as what was then called roots-rock, and put it at the
forefront of what was later called alt-country. But in retrospect,
Fear and Whiskey just sounds like a Mekons record one driven by Tom
Greenhalgh's desperate cry rather than Jon Langford's sarcastic shout
or Steve Goulding's motorvating drums. What Greenhalgh is desperate
about is a literally revolutionary scenario in which the government
has routed rebels who swear they'll regroup but find themselves
bogged down in alcoholic angst on a highway that's lost the way a
beachhead is lost. Facing up to the failure of a punk idealism
crippled, like the rest of public life, by the reactionary cruelty of
the Thatcher and Reagan regimes, the Mekons had begun their lifelong
project of keeping rock & roll leftism alive.