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The Mekons Honky Tonkin'

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
The third album from what could be called the Mekons' "soused socialist hillbilly-punks from Leeds" period, 1987's Honky Tonkin' built on the country-influenced musical and lyrical themes of Fear and Whiskey and The Edge of the World, where the boozy ambience of classic Nashville sounds found a sympathetic ear among this pack of political and emotional underdogs. As a set of songs, Honky Tonkin' isn't quite up to the standards of the previous two albums, which creatively kick started the band after a period of inactivity, but as an album Honky Tonkin' is one of the band's best efforts. Touring and frequent visits to the recording studio had tightened up the Mekons' sound a bit ("tight" being a highly relative concept), and while it's many miles away from slick, the more full-bodied engineering and production on Honky Tonkin' was a decided improvement on the often hollow and slapdash recording of Fear and Whiskey. And given a sympathetic recording environment for a change, the Mekons truly delivered the goods; the rollicking sway of "Kidnapped" and "Keep Hoppin'" finds room for a boozy joy in an unfriendly world, while the bitterness and defeat of "Spit" and "I Can't Find My Money" put a sympathetic human face on this band's class-conscious rage. And while this album didn't contain the Mekons' first stab at the 19th century protest song "The Trimdon Grange Explosion," this version was a remarkable meeting of folk-rock's earnestness and punk's spitting wrath which ranks with the group's most powerful recorded moments. Just short of a masterpiece, and one of the high points of the Mekons' twangy period. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi