Album Releases Album Reviews

The Professionals – SNAFU – Review

Genre: Classic Punk Rock

Label: JPT Records

Released: Out Now

Members: 

Paul Cook , Drums
Tom Spencer , Guitar \ Vocals
Toshi JC Ogawa , Bass

Tracklisting:

Easily Lead
Gold and Truthful
Spike Me Baby
Punk Rock and a Hard Place
M’Ashes
Heartburn
Never Say Never
So No Go
The Elegant Art of Falling Apart
Only Human
Consuminator

Introducing the 2nd album since the resurrection of The Professionals which took place in 2015. The dapper gentlemen from the London School of Punk Rock, sees a return in fiery style with more than enough material to give us food for thought in this day and age.

As the band’s logo shows, there is something of a history with this band and it’s an important one;

Formed in 1979 by guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook, both formerly of the Sex Pistols, Jones, Cook and bassist Andy Allan created The Professionals, and signed to Virgin Records, the same label as the Sex Pistols.

2 albums were recorded and saw light of day in the early 80s but the band fizzled out by the middle of the decade and whilst reunions were suggested, the real desire to do something only took place when Tom Spencer joined in place of Steve Jones in 2015 to celebrate a reissue of the original material and for a show at the 100 Club in London. The spark was still there and in 2017, they delivered ‘What in the World’ , their first album in 30 years.

A decent amount of touring saw some lineup changes and the band finally settled on the four piece that included Chris McCormack as well for all of the recent tours.

That brings us to the follow up, the potentially tough follow up to What in the World as this is, in theory for the current line up, that ‘difficult second album’. The gap between the first couple of releases in the 80’s and the new material is long enough to be able to consider those as coming from a different era for the band and should be viewed as such. What we care about here is whether the band can take what they brought back to the masses in 2017 and expand on it in the new decade.

As the opening track ‘Easily Led’ kicks in, it’s Cook’s drumming on the tom toms that immediately sets the tone and pace of the album. Whilst he almost refused to do it initially, “I only agreed to do it because I was drunk and I only agreed to a single take”, says the man himself during a recent interview we did with Paul and Tom. Aside from adding a couple of cymbal crashes, that single take just reiterates why the man is one of the best in the business and makes me wish Tom Spencer and Paul had decided to do something in 2000 rather than 15 years later.

They say though that timing is everything and there’s something very special indeed at the thought of the elder statesmen of British punk rock music delivering an album to prove that, as the lyrics say on ‘Gold and Truthful’, “They don’t make them like they used to.” Never a truer word said. Spencer cuts to the chase on every track and the guitar work along with Toshi’s ever dependable bass work adds depth to Cook’s solid drumming.

There are highlights, many in fact. None more so than on ‘Spike Me Baby’ that talks about the unfortunate incident where Cook ingested some of his daughters ‘herbal chocolate’ that he found in the fridge. Having spent a while wondering why is felt so odd, contemplating whether or not his time was up, he eventually was able to relax and go with the flow as the calming effects took over. Some apologies from his daughter later followed and the rest is history as the song so elegantly sets it out.

There are poignant moments. Especially on ‘M’Ashes’ which we will also cover in our interview but when it looks at transporting Steve Jones’ Mother’s ashes from London to L.A. and that also being the reason for a reunion of friends (Steve & Paul), it really hits home. It really is true that people only ever seem to get together for weddings and funerals, always promising to do more but never quite managing it when life, well, simply gets in the way. The song is witty, moving, told in a manner I think only The Professionals could ever do and it somehow brings Steve’s spirit and soul back to the band.

This is part of the beauty of what makes The Professionals a band that everyone can relate to. They’re not railing against society, they’re not promoting the drinks and drugs lifestyle (Cook’s dalliance with the happy chocolate aside), they’re talking about things that matter, the things that we set aside without realising it that hit us square between the eyes when we least expect it and realise we should have considered it, dealt with it, embraced it and more, sooner rather than never.

This is an album that needs the lyrics in front of you. We’ll all find something here that has personal meaning to us. It’s as if Cook and Spencer know how to tap into our consciousness and nudge us back in the right direction in life. Who knew it would take some of Britain’s best and longest serving punk rockers to show me the way?

The band go on tour this week – dates and links to tickets below:

Album Score: 8/10 

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall 

 

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