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Gallon Drunk Live at Klub 007 Review

Live. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Because they don't sound like anyone else.

Keira Burgess 2008

Gallon Drunk's James Johnston is a busy boy. A member of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds since 1994, he's also spent part of this year touring with Faust, while bandmate Ian White has been working with Lydia Lunch. Saxophonist Terry Edwards too has done the rounds of studios and stages, with a back catalogue of session work for the likes of PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, Spiritualized and The Jesus And Mary Chain.

So it's a surprise then, that this is the band's first live release proper, following on from last year's reissue of three of their classic collections complete with bonus live tracks from a selection of gigs spanning their career. The Klub 007 setlist is largely comprised of material from their 2007 album The Rotten Mile, with choice cuts from 1992's You The Night...And The Music and 1993's From The Heart Of Town.

For those who are new to Gallon Drunk, a quick scan of their previous accolades may be somewhat off-putting; the prospect of an amalgam of blues, heavy rock, avant-garde jazz, rockabilly and punk suggesting listening in may involve an amount of aural labour.

The reality is gladly the opposite. Opening with the velocity-driven sax/harmonica battle of The Rotten Mile, the album proves a pleasingly accessible and listenable offering. Johnston's vocals sometimes recall former tour buddy Mark E. Smith (Some Cast Fire), and at others take on the same haunting tones as Ian Curtis (Bad Servant). And among a run of songs which clearly break the five minute marker, Give Me Back What's Mine is 2 and a half minute jam of pure, spat-out vitriol.

The band creep through a spectrum of musical ages, mixing sixties riffs with post-punk sparseness on Down At The Harbour and psychedelic organ with distorted bass on Just One More.

Put The Bolt In The Door is a standout, with its blues, heavy rock and vocal full of desperation. "Come in if you're not welcome anywhere, anymore" drools Johnston, a suitable cry to those not assembled in the tiny club in Prague, jaded and in need of refuge from the musically mainstream and mediocre.

This album sells the Gallon Drunk live experience, capturing accomplished musicianship while simultaneously conveying an electric atmosphere. Get yourselves to a gig when possible. "Why?" as a certain late, great Mr Peel once said. "Because they don't sound like anyone else."

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