Title - 'League Style'
Artist - Anti-Nowhere League
For those not in the know, let's quickly get you up to speed on this powerhaus punk band. Anti-Nowhere League are an English hardcore punk band, formed in 1980 by lead singer Animal (Nick Culmer), guitarist Magoo (Chris Exall), P.J. (Persian John) on drums and Clive Blake on bass.
Their first gig was as a three piece at the 1980 Chaos Show at St Mark's Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells on 31 March 1980. Later that year, after reportedly bribing drummer Rat Scabies in the toilet of an East End pub, they also opened for The Damned on a short tour round the north of England and Scotland plus a hastily arranged one-off gig at the Lyceum Ballroom where The Damned stepped in for Stiff Little Fingers.
In 1982, ANL took part in the 'So What Tour' alongside groups such as Chelsea, Chron Gen and The Defects. This year also saw the release of their debut album, We Are ... The League. It reached No. 24 in the UK Albums Chart, and spent eleven weeks in the chart. The year finished with the 'Hardcore Storms America' tour with the UK Subs.
In 1984, PJ left the band, and they became musically inactive. 1985 saw Michael Bettell join on drums, followed in 1986 by JB (Jonathan Birch). During this time they signed for GWR Records, and recorded the The Perfect Crime album.
In 1987, Anti-Nowhere League disbanded. However, there was a belated 'farewell' show at the Victoria Hall in Tunbridge Wells, in 1989, which was recorded and can be heard on their live album, Live Animals.
The comeback began in 1992 with Metallica wanting Animal on stage with them to sing/perform 'So What', before Bettell died in September 2003. In 1996, they signed up with Impact Records and recorded their next EP Pig Iron. Beef also joined the band after Mark's departure.
Further personnel changes occurred in 1997 when Winston left the band to be replaced by Jon Jon, and the recording of the album Scum. Winston Blake then left the band and Danny joined on drums in 1998. The album Out of Control was released a year later in 1999. 2002 onward and Jon Jon, Beef and Danny left the band, to be replaced by PJ (original drummer), Jez on guitar and Shady on bass. This line-up released the band's fifth studio album, Kings and Queens in 2005.
In 2006, the band set up their own independent record label, Nowhere Records; with Pig Iron - The Album being the first release in August 2006. The Road To Rampton came out in 2007, drummer Dave 'Nato' Hazlewood left the band, Sam 'Carnage' Carne replaced him and in 2016 The Cage was released.
Now here in 2017 and ANL have released a brand new album, once again via Cleopatra Records, but don't be expecting their usual monster wall of punk rock sound! Entitled League Style, ANL front man and founder Animal is a longtime fan of the Jamaican legends whose songs are covered here including The Slickers, Dandy Livingstone, The Kingstonians, Prince Buster, and more.
1. 'Johnny Too Bad'
2. 'Suzanne, Beware Of The Devil'
3. 'Singer Man'
4. 'Come In To My Parlour (Said The Spider To The Fly)'
5. 'Fat Man'
6. 'Love Of The Common People'
7. 'Long Shot Kick De Bucket'
8. 'Big Five'
9. 'Black Pearl'
10. 'Me And My Life'
We begin with the mid-tempo beats of 'Johnny Too Bad' which is backed up by my own personal favorite track on the quite unexpectedly brilliant new album, 'Suzanne, Beware Of The Devil' ("Did you say you wanted someone new, or did you say you like the color of my shoe?"). 'Singer Man' is then backed by the gentle hipsway of 'Come In To My Parlour (Said The Spider To The Fly),' and then the restrained 'Fat Man.'
In truth, listening to all these Trojan Skinhead-Reggae covered classics, it's hard not to imagine that the guys just want to burst out of their newly-discovered rocksteady comfort zone, and pile head first into some manic, frenetic vocal screams! But they don't, and so we move steadily onward with a sped up 'Love Of The Common People' (made pop famous by Paul Young), and then the fun 'Long Shot Kick De Bucket.'
The guitar-led, and at times fight feisty 'Big Five' is another great track, albeit rather lyrically fruity, and that's followed by the guitar bounce of 'Black Pearl,' before the album rounds out with 'Me And My Life.'
Available on CD and colored vinyl, League Style is most definitely, for my money at the very least, their most left of center musical venture yet. One undertaken with, one assumes, a wee bit of trepidation by the guys themselves, luckily most all the songs work - and some might even soon become requested tour tunes, who knows!
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