Until very recently – and he only stopped when his first daughter was born – me and my brother spent 28 years next to each other watching our team every single Saturday.
What the people who say “what did you go and do that for?” never understood was that it wasn’t about the result itself. Thank Christ, most times.
My brother and me have a bond, because of those decades, through the sport that is unbreakable. And yeah, that might sound a bit over the top, but there’s no other way of putting it.
“Justice for 96” towards the end of “Fake News And Propaganda” proves that, there by the grace of whatever you consider holy go I, because that day, that awful day in South Yorkshire, that could have been me and him.
We can argue all day long about The S*n smearing the fans with disgraceful, lurid lies. We can discuss another time that the vile Thatcher government of the day had demonised the working class to such a point where we were to be kept in pens like cattle until nearly 100 people went to a game and never came home. And we can talk later about the ongoing battle for the establishment to be held to account that those families face, because there’s a human cost to this. “I’d love to see you another day……” is the poignant line at the end of the chorus here, and not only does it come with real feeling as anyone who knows about the history of singer Ken Bonsall and his tragic loss, but it marks Ferocious Dog out as brilliant, evocative songwriters.
I first saw the band almost by accident. FD were opening for The Wildhearts just before last Christmas – playing a longer set because The Amorettes were ill – and honestly, about the only time I can recall loving a support band that much was about 20 years before when 3 Colours Red were on before The Almighty.
Ferocious Dog were astonishing that night. I’ve seen them since too, and that wasn’t a fluke.
“Fake News And Propaganda” starts in a way that you can almost imagine them playing live. “Cry Of The Celt” builds up slowly before exploding in a way that Dog do at their best.
Dan Booth’s – the co-songwriter here – violin is central to the sound generally, but specifically here “Traitors Gate” rouses the rabble admirably on the back of one of his licks.
“Cover Me” is a particular highpoint. A quite wonderful study on the plight of the working class throughout the industrial age, it tars us all with the same brush, from the miner to the prostitute, we all need help and we’re all just trying to make ends meet.
The title track is a brilliant attack on the right wing mainstream media, asking the simple question: “why do they want to rule the world when the truth is not for sale?” and along the way takes a swipe at the “lying Tory scum…..” and if it has an air of The Levellers about it then, lets not for a minute suggest that anyone here would be upset at that comparison.
The fact that they just have a different way of writing than anyone else comes through everywhere. “Lacey-Lee” (the name of one of Booth’s children) hides its message of empowerment behind some gorgeous harmony, while the crunchy groove of “The Landscape Artist” provides a perfect backdrop to a musing on the destruction of the countryside, co-written with Levellers Jeremy Cunningham, but from a perspective that is thought provoking.
“Up All Night” changes tack again, and has the air of something that Urban Voodoo Machine would do, if they wanted to elucidate the confusion and paralysis of Brexit, “Bedlam Boys” likewise has the whiff of a hoedown in backstreet folk club.
It’s interesting too, that things end on an upbeat note. “Yellow Feather” not only implores us to “live every single day as if it was your last” it reminds that “life can be so short but we’ve still got the groovy stuff to do.”
Which, after dealing with so many themes, seems to suggest – to me at least – that whatever the media, big business, politicians and Daily Mail Readers think, how many divisions they try and create between us, then we still have each other.
Ferocious Dog are one of the most important bands we have right now. And that’s no Fake News.