Borrowed Time: Pushed To The Brink (Borrowed Time)
Louder Than War’s Nathan Brown hears shades of Dee Dee Ramone meets Motorhead on this self released CD from ageing Gloucestershire punks, Borrowed Time.
“I’m on borrowed time, living on borrowed time, gonna make it mine”: so goes the band’s eponymous anthem ‘Borrowed Time’. When I first heard the name it made me chuckle: perfect for a bunch of ageing punks, I thought. And with the sudden passing of Colin from Runnin’ Riot and gig promoters Davee Chaospunk in Kent and Stevie Caldwell in Leeds over the last couple of weeks it makes me wonder how long any of us has got. Or is it deeper: reflecting on punk as musical genre, movement, scene or whatever you want to call it? After all, I’ve heard ill-informed participants of the ‘first wave’ tell documentary makers that punk died before it reached the youth. No one told them that the youth took it, reinvented it and spat it back out in a more gnarly form relevant to the streets and it became ours, not theirs, to decide whether it was alive or dead. And it may be living on borrowed time but there’s life in the old dog yet.
Arriving as the second song on this CD, the track in question could have come from Dee Dee Ramone‘s output around 2000. I’m thinking his ‘Hop Around’ album – dirty, garagey and heavy – only with a British accent. There is even a nod to the great man’s ‘Chinese Rocks’ as the song tails off with a refrain of “I’m living on borrowed time, we’re living on borrowed time”.
Yeah, I know, it’s a bone of contention whether it was Dee Dee, Richard Hell or Johnny Thunders who wrote Chinese Rocks but it’s Dee Dee’s version I’m referencing here, okay? ‘Borrowed Time’ is one of many tracks in which the song structure, lyrical content and Rob Fletcher’s vocals remind me of Dee Dee’s work and now that I have noticed the similarity I would say that it’s the best reference point I could give. Weird given that on first listen I considered other gruff punk bands like GBH and English Dogs as potential comparators to give you a flavour (and give this lazy reviewer an easy get out). The lyrics – somewhere between gnarly, punk rock angst/anger and self deprecating humour – are spewed out with venom.
What was clear from that first listening, before Dee Dee came screaming out of the speakers at me, was a Motorhead influence: plenty of double kick drum action and a solid snare combining with Baz’s bass (who also plays in Noise Agents) to provide a rhythm section foundation on which the two guitarists (who also play for Gloucestershire bands Chinese Burn and Isolation) thrash out a wide diversity of sounds from overdriven downstrokes and rock’n’roll breaks to wah wah and flanger. This CD is well played and well produced – not bad for a first release from a band who haven’t even been going for a year- and it has certainly grown on me with more listens.
Whilst the bulk of the CD is driving, gruff-heavy punk which grows on you with more listens, there are moments of variety. ‘Primary Instincts’ reminds me of The Specials’ ‘Do Nothing’ in the more melodic vocal delivery, assisted by an uncredited female participant. ‘Pushed To The Brink‘ pauses halfway through for a bouncy breakdown vaguely reminiscent of the way that Rage Against the Machine did that Sabbath meets rap thing, before kicking back in with the Motorhead-style riff. This, the title track, was featured on August’s Vive le Rock’s cover CD. Borrowed Time’s farewell track, ‘Stranded’, is a little more melodic, built around a guitar line that could sit well with more mainstream rock acts while the second guitar’s rhymthmic chopping and the backing vocals conjure up The Stooges.
I’m told the band are picking up support slots with the likes of UK Subs and Anti-Nowhere League and featured on Rebellion’s new band stage this year. To find out more check them out on Facebook.
Get the CD direct from the band: borrowedtimeband.co.uk.
Words by Nathan Brown. You can read more in his author’s archive here.