Cock Sparrer: Forever

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  • Artist:Cock Sparrer
  • Title:Forever
  • Format Reviewed:MP3
  • Format Released:2nd June 2017
  • Reviewed By:Kami Provan

What does it take to be considered of legendary status in the music business? I gave this some thought when reviewing this band’s new album. The criteria you would think would be obvious: in all cases to be a legend you really have to be established, to have a considerable following and be talked about in great lengths from all kinds of media. Even if it is non-mainstream music, the criteria would have to be the same I’m sure. Sex Pistols, The Clash, Nirvana, The Specials, Iggy Pop, The Ramones you get the idea. So in terms of media coverage this band are unheard of outside their genre. They don’t get a mention in hardly any media for past or present recordings. Their tour announcements slip by unnoticed by the majority of the mainstream music press, and their last album release was ten years ago. They are definitely well established as they were formed as school friends in 1972, and much of the band is still together today. You’ll be thinking I’m being a little self-indulgent here, talking up one of my favourites to a level that is not justified or just way off the mark with my estimations, however, this in fact is Cock Sparrer, one of the most influential bands in the world and that is not an understatement. They command a huge following around the globe and create a scrabble for tickets on the announcement of a rare tour. This band are legends despite the little attention from press and media, or having the backing of a powerful label to hype them as musicians, the fact that they have been elevated to this status by fans of their music makes them all the more remarkable as a band. In fact the stadium bands of today that tour the world in private planes cite them as an influence, inspiring them to take up their instruments and try to create what Cock Sparrer had given them with the bar being raised to the dizzy heights of Shock Troops, an album that should be spoken about with The Ramones, Never Mind the Bollocks or The Clash.

The new sixteen-track album is called Forever and I suppose that is what their songs will be left for, as generations pass them down like audible heirlooms to enjoy and inspire. One By One sets the tone that’s been constant with all Cock Sparrer albums: driven bass and drums, the foundations for some magical riffs and choruses around working class life stories. This first track is about life at school with your mates and how they stand by you through thick and thin into your adult life, helping you take on your enemies around marriage, kids and jobs. The unmistakable cockney accent of Colin McFaull delivers the words with power, passion and pride, describing the beginnings we all recognise as working class kids.

If you’re looking for musical inspiration in times of difficulty then Gonna Be Alright is one of those songs that lifts your spirits immediately. It seems to be depicting the struggles of dealing with severe illness and how to pull through and fight on in adversity. As always, the arrangements work perfectly with isolated vocals or guitar instrumentals capturing the moments between the hooks of the chorus and the story of the fight.

With what sounds like an acoustic guitar in the background Cock Sparrer have come up with another set of lyrics that just ooze emotion and character throughout Every Step Of The Way, the history of the band showing that when it comes to describing working class life in all its gory detail there is no better. The very little hair I have left on the back of my neck stood to attention as the song describes the emotions of seeing men around you fall in battle. This is a moving and emotional song that tells of standing by people in your life through troubled times. There’s a softer vocal delivery here, which still moves at a fair pace and evokes images in every verse and chorus.

Contender starts with a familiar guitar sound from Cock Sparrer: it’s a great sing-along song, that will have crowds sweating and seething along eachother’s backs, spitting the lyrics with raised fists in the company of Working or Riot squad. It rattles a few eardrums (and cages) when telling us about people who are no longer friends, the bitterness and backstabbing involved when a once close acquaintance turns on you. Some great riffs are heard and also a great bit of harmonising to end the track. If there were still singles being put out, then this would no doubt be top of the list for the position.

If ever a song described the ups and downs of a working class marriage then Up With This does just that. There has always been a humorous side to some of Cock Sparrer’s song writing, and this is a typical can’t live with, can’t live without each other relationship.

Although I don’t think Cock Sparrer will ever recreate a whole album of the quality of Shock Troops, where every track sets fire to your stereo (well almost, only Droogs Don’t Run was the exception), most bands find it difficult enough to emerge with one song in their career that people talk about. The band have reached those heights at least a few times on each of the subsequent albums released over the years, but still delivering quality to the rest of the albums tracks most bands would be overjoyed with. Forever carries on in the same vein where the highlights are very high, but the quality in the whole album is still there to be enjoyed for…well, Forever.


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