It is fitting that I first listened back to this live recording, taken from the Salford show of JD Meatyard’s recent ‘Independents Tour’, in the hours after our Tory government decided to bomb Syria. The helpless sense of outrage and frustration I was feeling then, and still feel now, is all over this album, which at times is as much political rally as music gig.
The set kicks off with a rip-roaring St Peter At The Gate, where JD’s ire is righteously mostly directed at bankers, Tories (some of whom apparently accidently saw him play an earlier gig) and a particular newspaper magnate. An early highlight is a visceral version of Jesse James, where JD’s frenetic strumming could almost match touring partner Jesse Statman’s, and it’s clear we need a John Donaldson (even when ‘doing’ Mark E Smith) as much as we need anyone. This is a political call to arms at its most vital.
The tellingly apt Taking The Asylum reminds us who suffers when wars are declared and the madness of the world we live in and features a couple of fantastic yells that come from deep within the heart of a clearly passionate and honest artist.
We get a couple of ‘hits’ in the form of the John Peel Festive 50 bothering Northern Song and Lies, Lies & Government, both delivered here with typically ad-libbed lyrics that spew out in a stream of consciousness that challenges the audience to keep up. The roars of approval that follow suggest they do just that.
There’s personal heartbreak too with a couple of snippets from Sad Song Of A Singer Songwriter, one which segues neatly into Sorry Song, and the beautifully bleak Anna Had A Kid.
Things round off with a triptych of A Political Song (where never has the repetition of the word ‘guillotine’ sounded so exciting), the fabulous Standing On The Shoulders (with a melody to die for and a roll-call of vital artists that should be listened to by every 18-year-old in this country before they vote), and a phenomenal MySpace Star (where guitarist Steve Lindley really comes to the fore).
JD Meatyard is one of those artist who you have to experience live. This excellent recording gives you a taste of what a protest singer mixing humour and heartfelt politics in the 21st century can and should sound like. As the man himself says, this is the truth.
Support independent artists by going to see them play live in your town and downloading shows like this from German Shepherd Records:
You can pre-order now and the album will be released just in time for the Christmas rush on 21 December.