This album blew me away from the very beginning. If this is any indication whatsoever of the talent of this band, I’m an instant fan. It satisfies all of my Faster Harder Louder cravings, launching right into the music without any of that namby-pamby prelude and instrumental warming up that bands always seem to insist upon. Not for the Men They Couldn’t Hang. Bam. It’s up-front, in your face, and physical.
The first song on this selection is “The Lion and the Unicorn,” which bears little resemblance to the popular children’s rhyme. Rather, it’s a rousing rendition told as a guided tour of the so-named pubs of the UK. It’s hard to decide what to make of this song, so I suggest just sitting back and enjoying the tone and music.
“The Kingdom of the Blind” slows down just a little, but I won’t hold it against them. It’s a very powerful song, with a strong beat and a solid backbone. No, this song won’t fall back in a strong wind; it’ll hold its ground and defy any who dare get in the way.
Sadly, all too sadly in this case, I was only allowed these two selections. The album I was given to review was only an EP, with the two above mentioned songs as a sampler from the Silvertone Records label.
Now, since what I heard was only two songs, on a ten-year-old sampler from a label that doesn’t carry them at this time, I can’t exactly urge you to go out and find the “untitled EP” unless you’re really a completist. What I can do is urge you to go out and find something else by The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Their Web site (http://www.tmtch.net/) contains a complete history and discography of the band, enough to get anyone started. There’s also a section for audio samples, so you don’t have to take my word alone on the matter.
Who are The Men They Couldn’t Hang? Simply put, they’re a UK group that aspires to alternative country and achieves far more than that in terms of live performance, and sheer folk-rock power. They released their first album, Night of a Thousand Candles in 1985, and followed that up with 1986′s How Green Is The Valley. Waiting For Bonaparte in 1988 proved to be the one that made them stars in Europe, while Silvertown in 1989 retained their popularity. Domino Club was released in 1990, and it’s from this album that the songs I experienced were taken, and thus the one I’d be able to recommend the most.
They broke up in 1990, reunited for a live performance in 1991, released Alive, Alive-O in 1991 as well, and then disbanded once more until 1996. It was then that they returned with Never Born To Follow in 1996, Six Pack EP in 1997, and Majestic Grill in 1998. 1999 saw the release of The Mud, The Blood, and the Beer, the second “Best Of…” album following Majestic Grill. One can only assume that they have more albums in the works as we speak.
The Men They Couldn’t Hang consist of Stefan Cush, Philip Odgers, Paul Simmonds, and Ricky McGuire.