Freedom Faction: Habit of a Lifetime – album review
Freedom Faction – Habit of a Lifetime (FFUK)
“Old School Punk” which is actually authentic, raw, fun and means it maan, says Ged Babey of punks-for-life Freedom Factions second album.
As you can see from the cover artwork, a collage of classic punk 7 inch picture sleeves, the lifelong habit that Freedom Faction are talking about is their love of punk rock from the late 1970’s. Proper Punk. Classic Punk. Pure Punk or as it gets called dismissively by youngsters Old-School Punk.
They were presumably pre-teens in ’77 as the Cambridge band first formed in 1986. They reformed in 2005 and have supported UK Subs, The Lurkers, Subhumans, GBH, Vibrators, 999, Ruts DC, etc and played at festivals including Rebellion, Degeneration, Nice n Sleazy, Punks Against Cancer over recent years.
They describe their second album as “10 tracks of liquid punk”. Which is spot on. This is music for beer-drinkers but it is also eminently listenable for the accuracy with which they replicate the sound of the Users, Art Attacks, 999 and Slaughter and the Dogs -the real-deal punks who made raw, passionate, funny and infectious music.
Maybe its just the fact that the band can’t afford any modern effects pedals or amps and record in a basic analogue studio? Maybe its by accident rather than design, but the fact is that any of these songs would fit right in and not be out of place on the Action Time Vision Boxed Set Cherry Red brought out before Xmas.
Unlike some bands of their ilk Freedom Faction are fast. Not Hardcore D-Beat fast but nippy, zippy and they corner well. The singer has that yelping squeal that Nick Cash has and yet sounds more like matey from Slaughter and the Dogs. Freedom Faction remind me to of Armitage Shanks and the Headcoats when they would do punk-covers…. all the energy and cranked-up, of-the-moment joy… and none of the posturing and bullshit.
What makes me like FF a lot too is what they don’t do. They don’t label themselves Oi! or Streetpunk, although they easily could with songs like JSA and This Business Is Closed with their street-level political commentary. They don’t go for obvious current targets; the Tories, X-Factor …. and they don’t do un-PC, liberal-baiting or casual sexism like some bands.
They use ‘classic punk themes’ in their songs, like TV /soaps/ the Valium of the masses (TV Won’t Let Me), Rules & Regulations/Jobsworths (Pretty Little Rules) . and a commentary on the punk scene (Different Time, Habit of a Lifetime) which echo songs by Some Chicken, Neon Hearts and the Unwanted ( New Religion, Regulations and the End is Nigh if you wanna google them…) as well as the more obvious Strummer/ Jones numbers.
With albums like this I’m always tempted to excitedly say things like,’the best punk band of their generation’, but then I check myself because I remember I thought exactly the same on hearing Archive 45, Skurvi, Crash Landings… albums. Punk isn’t a competition. They are all winners and all losers (!) and they all make a racket to please themselves, their fans and anyone who will listen and get something out of it. There’s no ‘pecking order’. But I’d rather see a band like Freedom Faction play than former heroes from the late 70’s going thru the motions with one member of the original line-up. ( And that is not a pop at any one band in particular, honest.)
I have to say though, that having a shit-hot drummer helps a lot. Freedom Faction have a great drummer who manages to get a bit of ‘Moving Away from the Pulsebeat’ into one song. The rhythm guitarist as well is a fuckin’ hero, as you can see from the video hereabouts (2:41 in). The singer gives the band its personality with his pure manic drive and the bass-player and lead guitarist, well they’re the ones who provide the band with some much needed sex appeal; the others are ugly bastards*.
The fact I’ve had this album on repeat play for a week or more, when I’ve got other stuff I really should listen to, is proof to me, that Freedom (for Tooting!) Faction are a bloody good, no-nonsense, old-fashioned but thoroughly relevant, punk rock band. I’m pleased to see they are on the bill at this years Rebellion (the Punk Rock Mecca!) and would encourage every single one of you (Kunts) reading to go and see ’em, after getting hold of a copy of this album of course.
(You say the bribe is in the post lads? It still hasn’t arrived…)*
GIG DATES 2017
Fri Feb 3rd The Unicorn London NW1 w/Wasted Life
FRI Feb 24 The Hat Factory, Luton w/Anti Nowhere League
SAT Mar 04 Portland Arms, Cambridge w/Sham 69
FRI Apr 21 The Victoria Bikers Pub Leicester w/ Spirit Bomb
SAT Apr 22 The Manor Ballroom, Ipswich, w/UK Subs and the Straps
SAT May 27 Bar 42 Worthing -Bash the Bishop 4 – 2 -day Festival with loads of great bands
SAT Jun 03 Midsummer Common, Cambridge
SAT Jul 01 the Haygate, Telford
THU Aug 03 Rebellion Festival, Blackpool