Friday 22 October 2021

The Professionals - SNAFU

 SNAFU is an abbreviation.  It stands for:

  • Situation Normal - The Professionals return with another slab of solid, energetic, balls out Rock n Roll
  • All F****d Up - their last new music appeared at the start of March 2020, that description pretty much describes the backdrop to the creation of this album

It may have taken 36 years for their second album (2017s 'What In The World') to arrive, but since then there have been 3 x 4 track EPs, almost constant touring (when they were able to) and now this new album.

And it delivers what you expect - straight ahead, no frills, rock which works on record and (if past experience is anything to go by) live on stage in theatres and clubs.

Showiness, histrionics, whimsy, clever-dicky lyrical turns, musical diversions - not a bit of it.  Paul Cook's tom toms herald the opening track "Easily Lead" and the tone and groove is set.
Tom Spencer (vocals, guitar), Toshi JC Ogawa (bass), and a host of invited guests (including Chris McCormack, Billy Duffy and Phil Collen) to add their own ingredients to the mix, and 'SNAFU' ensures those colder nights are not so biting - warm, honest, welcoming, and thouroughly entertaining.

Admittedly, the 11 tracks here rarely veer from the template, but why should they, and why do they need to?

"Spike Me Baby" (based on Paul Cook eating a bar of chocolate that was laced with herbal product by his daughter) a straight 4/4 rock with a memorable chorus, that would not sound out of place in the edgier parts of Radio 2, or tha lighter moments of 6Music

Steve Jones is not on this album, other than in spirit as the inspiration for "M'Ashes" - the tale of Paul Cook taking Jonesy's mothers ashes to LA, and the meeting and parting of 2 old friends.
The melody may be a slight lift from Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia", but this may very well be one of the best songs The Professionals have done - it's both a hark back to Steve Jones chug-a-lug riffing, shout along chorus, an added bit of poignancy and truth, and the current band standing front and centre.

"Punk Rock And A Hard Place" may be a bit of a cliched title, but a fine song indeed (and one where they invent a new word "jearlurful" - I think I know what they're meaning by it, but I might try and lever into conversation to see if anyone notices")

The lyrics of "Never Say Never" suggest a swipe at a Mr J Rotten - it's possible, but I think it's more coincidence of timing, and may well have been written before the recent disagreements (although saying that, I don't think Cookie has ever had a disagreement.  I don't think I've read one bad word about him)

Negatives are few (but I'm a grumpy sod so I'm going to highlight a couple):
"The Elegant Art (Of Falling Apart)" is a stonking track both musically and lyrically, but on record it sounds restrained, almost over-produced.
And I mentioned up there "why change the template" - I stand by those words, but would welcome one or two slight diversions.  I'm not complaining about chant-along choruses, or Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Middle Eight-Chorus song construct, but a splash of extra colour by changing the order a little perhaps.
But then again, I only know 4 chords and can't carry a tune in a bucket, so what do I know about songcraft?

"Gold And Truthful" includes the line "They don't make 'em like that anymore", but The Professionals were made that way, stay that way, and play that way.  And long may they continue.
Many bands second life exceeds their first, so all props to them

To paraphrase opening track of their last album: You can't keep a good band down


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