The Zips – Huh?
One of Scotland’s best loved punk bands return with their latest offering. Huh? features ten socially conscious slabs of energetic punk rock attitude fuelled rock ‘n’ roll.
The Zips have survived the last 40 years having surfed the first wave of punk rock releasing a seven-inch EP 1979. The EP is changing hands for silly money these days. The band remain a force to be reckoned with, live they are hard to beat playing incendiary live shows with songs providing cutting and pertinent social commentary for the 21st century. This album is no different, with various topics tackled in the usual Zips style, employment issues, homelessness, food banks, politics, the welfare state… The album is also strewn with references to Berlin and Germany serving as a nod to their large fan base over there. The other thing this album is littered with is TLAs…
IOU opens the album in inimitable style, the song having appeared on the bands recent limited 7” vinyl package, it tackles employers who take their employees for granted in a time when zero hours contracts ensure that big get their pound of flesh.
Sirens herald the arrival of State, highlighting the mess politicians and bankers have made of the country Jonzip declaring a state of emergency underlined by a suitably frantic drum line. This is a public service announcement – with guitars.
The fact that the band members are fans of the Clash/Joe Strummer is well-documented, with guitarist Fred X also a member of premier Clash tribute band Combat Rock. The Zips share Strummer and co.’s socially conscious outlook, so I’m sure all would be horrified by the current No 10 resident’s recent revelation. This album sees them collaborate with another Clash aficionado, Stephen Scott, providing the defiant cover art for the album. Another of his works, Crime Scene, fits this scenario well.
The Strummer link continues with the intro melody line to AOB almost having me sing “I was crawling through a festival way out west…” along to it. The song laments the closure of a factory and the resultant loss of jobs and the dismissive attitude towards employees. Resonant driving guitars continue from this into the unswerving romp of Taxi.
Along with nine of their own compositions, The Zips pay tribute to the legendary Shug O’Neill with a glorious cover of The Snipes Ein Zwei Drei Vier. The connection with German punk rock fans continues later in the album with the band paying homage to the Lenz twins, Jessica & Janine, who many of those who have attended Zips gigs will recognise. Rock Twins explodes with an adrenaline rush of pounding drums and thrashing guitars expounding their tale – “This is the story of a sister act, don’t miss a trick their fingers scan the lyrics, don’t do realpolitik”.
Biff, Bang, Pow!
Who knew you could mix Back to the Future with the White House? Biff does just that, replacing the bad ‘un in the movie with the arch villain and serial liar in Washington DC. Where’s my De Lorean? Jonzip asks as he wishes the ability to return and have a word in Trumps parent’s ears. The guitars sing as they rise and soar in this one complemented by a sweet bass riff. Whether intentional or not, the outro to the song recalls a certain band from another Scottish legend – Alan McGee.
Bread Over Bombs
Closing the album Jon and co. tackle the subject of homelessness and government spending on needless weapons on Bread Over Bombs, influenced by the NYC based organisation, which has been supported by the band over the years.
Just one last thing. There is one thing I can’t overlook, the corny call me a taxi joke…makes me cringe every time.
But all joking aside, The Zips have created another document of the times we live in, sound-tracked in their own inimitable first wave of punk rock Clash influenced style. Vive le Zips, if there is no AOB, this review is closed.
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