Track list: Easily
Lead / Gold and Truthful / Spike Me Baby / Punk Rock and a Hard Place /
M'Ashes / Heartburn / Never Say Never / So No Go / The Elegant Art of
Falling Apart / Only Human / Consuminator
It’s been a quick four years since What In The World. Take out the
pandemic, add in three pulsating EPs, and The Professionals have
actually been pretty prolific by 21st century standards. They’ve had
quite a task. WITW received wide acclaim, taking nearly everyone by
surprise with the quality of song writing coupled with the dynamic rock
‘n’ roll delivery. It was also partly a transitional album, with
contributions from Steve Jones providing lineage from the 1980s
incarnation of the band. The resulting flipside meant the legacy of the
Steve fronted Profs was still hanging heavy in the air. No longer.
The last four years have established The Professionals as an exciting
modern band in their own right, a reputation justifiably earned by
their live shows and the strength of the material penned by Paul Cook
and Tom Spencer.
So, where do they find themselves in 2021? Let’s pause for a moment and
take in the cover. Tom has put his day job skills to good use with a
striking stained glass composition, boldly proclaiming SNAFU, aka
‘Situation Normal, All Fucked Up’ . Dare I say it, it’s both beautiful
and chaotic. Perfect for The Professionals. As Paul says; “It’s like
that with us, The Professionals, it always seems a bit SNAFU! And
generally with the world we’re in at the moment.”
The Covid mix of remote and face to face song writing and recording
hasn’t deflected the band’s focus. Tough uplifting rock with a splash
of Pistols swagger is what we could all do with right now, and thank
God that’s the furrow the Profs have been ploughing. Fittingly, it’s
Cookie’s drums that kick off the LP with that unmistakable sound. How
does he do that? Then the guitar feast slides in and Easily Lead well,
leads us off into their sonic world. “With a gun to my head…”
sings Tom in the first of a series of reflective, gritty lyrics that
permeate the album. It’s a punchy, resolute start.
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to” goes the chorus of Gold and Truthful.
Continuing the urgent start to the set there’s a sinister undercurrent
throughout the song. Just when you may be contemplating a quick
breather, a guitar solo whips you into line, and then does so again at
the song's conclusion. Crescendo indeed.
Single Spike Me Baby,
the result of Cookie’s ingestion of daughter Hollie’s space cake, has a
sing-along chorus that’ll make it a live favourite. Blessed with a
cutting melody, Paul ‘n’ Tom deliver a hard edged danceable punk-pop
rhythm. Hollie brings some BVs to the party, which is only fair, after
all she started it.
With anxiety affecting us all over recent months, Punk Rock and a Hard Place
holds a mirror up to the times and stomps right through it. Musically
it’s a heavyweight bout; Sex Pistols squaring up to Johnny Thunders.
It’s a battle with a brisk and brutal end. “It’s looking like game
We’re the winners.
Here’s one special song. M’Ashes
is fabulous on so many levels. I don’t quite know where to begin.
There’s the story behind it for starters - Steve Jones’ mother Mary
passed away and Paul flew to LA with her ashes to give to Steve. The
dark humour of the lyrics perfectly capture Steve’s relationship with
his mother. Sung in a celebratory, witty and respectful manner, it’s
joyous aura wrapped up in a rousing chorus of “see ya later”. It’s
impossible not to like. Of course, it’s only right to acknowledge that
through this song the essence of Steve has filtered into the grooves of
the record. It’s quite possibly the best song they’ve ever recorded.
Take one part Eddie Cochran, one part glam rock 7”, a pinch of country,
and place it in the Prof blender. A neat rocker, Heartburn, is the
result. With the past constantly catching up and trapping us, not even
the screaming guitar solo will set us free. It’s a mini-epic, rattling
along like an old train and taking a swig of moonshine along the way.
Cinemascope Professionals in 3.15 minutes.
The gentle opening to Never
Say Never belies the waiting colossus. It addresses the
inevitable changing of perspective and views over time in the rock ‘n’
roll world, not all of which are welcome. The tune falls and rises in
exhilarating fashion and is blessed with another cracking chorus - a
key Cook ‘n’ Spencer ingredient. This ought to be playing on your
radio, c’mon Radio 6.
In yer face aggression, belligerent vocal delivery and defiant musical
backbone, make So No Go
unavoidable and unforgettable. Those with a street punk leaning should
latch onto this one. Leaving bullshit behind drives the song, and it
does just that, knocking the stuffing out of you in the process. It
ends neatly, musically and lyrically, a trick put to great effect
throughout the LP.
Dangerous glamour permeates The
Elegant Art of Falling Apart. Tom has stretched his vocal
delivery on SNAFU, and it pays off here, adding to the mood and the
musicality. Guitar solos sparkle like jewels in the middle and again at
It’s tempting to use the word ‘elegant’ for the song itself, but I’ll
go with sophisticated. And sussed.
“I’m a filthy nasty homo sapien, I’ll break your heart and rob you
blind” rants Tom in Only
Human’s fadeout. Yes, it’s all about how dreadful we can
be to one another. There’s a hint of self depreciation and humour in
the mix, and boy, it rocks big time. “Someone else sort it out, I just
want to scream and shout”; well no-one stopped the boys on this cut.
Now this is different. Consuminator
chugs along like a relentless juggernaut, an air of creeping menace
bolstered by the steady unwavering pace. It’s a fine way to round off
SNAFU and enjoy the band’s finely tuned interplay. Cookie’s drums are
front and centre, Toshi’s bass pulsates throughout, and Tom’s layered
riffs forges the atmosphere. Whether you’ve time to “rob the duty free”
or are “out of time to kill”, the album closer is a deliberately
intense experience. One that leaves this consumer satisfied.
The Professionals have managed it. With Dave Draper once again
in the producer's chair, they’ve matched What In The World
and bestowed upon us another fine punk/rock album for the modern age.
Guests Billy Duffy, Phil Collen, Jonny Weathers and Neil Ivison
sprinkle their magic guitar dust, but it’s the central trio - let’s not
forget Toshi - who have excelled. Cookie is still at the epicentre,
maintaining his style with a direct bloodline to Never Mind The
Bollocks, on which Tom builds his guitar factory. Wisely avoiding
flirting with other musical genres, they’ve stuck to their raison
d'etre, combining hard-hitting musicality with catchy choruses and
memorable refrains. Ear worms abound.
Ballsy rock ‘n’ roll with an emotional narrative - it’s what we want to
hear from The Professionals and they don’t disappoint.