After a fairly lacklustre ending to the nineties, our heroic chaps greeted the new millennium with a freshly found pep in their step by releasing 3 albums and 2 ep’s within the first 5 years.
First up was Trouble Over Bridgwater, a pun on the Simon and Garfunkel title. 16 tracks of rip roaring post punk with a Christmas song thrown in for good measure! The band sounds a lot more hungry and the songs Bob and weave along with the same sardonic and sarcastic wit as early albums. Highlights on the album include opener Irk The Purists, the closer Twenty Four Hour Garage People and the folksy tale of an eighties pop duo torn asunder by gravel (The Ballad of Climie Fisher). But the standout song is the wonderful Bob Dylan spoof With Goth On Our Side, a tale of a Welsh goth longing for somewhere to belong.
The following year a six track ep appeared on the scene, Editor’s Recommendation, replete with a hangman’s noose on the front cover (the implication being the editor is recommending you go hang yourself). This ep has a folky blues vibe to the songs with the highlight being New York Skiffle, a charming tune skewering the New York scene of Burroughs, Warhol, Reed and heroin.
Another 12 months passes and a new HMHB album emerges confidently into the world. Cammel Laird Social Club is, in my opinion, one of the best HMHB albums there is. It’s the I recommend to people if they’ve not heard the band before; it’s really quite accessible for the non-fan. The lyrics range from such diverse things as fair trade cocaine, five day tests, Milton, Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubervilles and sniffer dogs in fluorescent bibs. It’s quite difficult to pick out just one track to highlight but the pop-punk vibe of She’s In Broadstairs showcases them at their best.
Saucy Haulage Ballads, another six track ep, and whilst having a couple of great tracks on here, it felt a little flat after CLSC the previous year. Still, it probably contains more ideas, insight and moments than most bands could manage in an entire career, with Blood On The Quad being the standout track.
It took another 2 years before we saw hide or hair of HMHB again but when they returned it was with another belter of an album. Achtung Bono, the band’s tenth full length, showed no signs of flagging or running on fumes and carried on where Cammel had left off; scathing observations on bogus officials, farm yard signs, unusual band themed merchandise and bad tattoos. Once again it’s difficult to pick just one track but the closer, We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune is up there.
That’s just the first five years of 2000 done with! Next post catches us right up to date with the band. Until then, TTFN.