Search God Save The Sex Pistols with freefind

The Professionals - SNAFU
(JPT Records 005)

SNAFU cover the-professionals-2021-by-simon-drake
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 over”. 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 the end. 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.

Phil Singleton (September 2021)

Pre-order SNAFU - out 8th October 2021
See them live on the October SNAFU Tour

The Professionals 2021 photograph by Simon Drake

Paul interview August 2021 >

©Phil Singleton / / 2021
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.

God Save The Sex Pistols / Kick Down The Doors ©Phil Singleton / / 2021

God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /