How do you slag off a band such as 999? The short answer is – quite simply, you don’t! You can’t! Formed in 1976 during the original wave of punk music, they have continued touring since and still manage to pack out venues. Remarkably, the band presently show only one personnel change from inception, and have in fact been playing with the current line-up for some sixteen years. ‘Death In Soho’ is the first album containing new material to be released for nine years. So is it worth the wait?
I think so. 999, for me were always one of the more ‘accessible’ punk bands of their era – not as extreme and frantic as others, and this album will appeal to a wide range of listeners, rabid punk fans or not. Just so long as you enjoy simplistic, up- tempo, loud ‘in yer face’ music! Fifteen tracks of it!
Opening track ‘Gimme The World’ continues the band’s reputation for trying different things in the good name of ‘Punk,’ with the adoption of a dark, Russian operatic sounding chorus. ‘The System’ chugs along a simple bass line and is perhaps one of the strongest tracks on the album. The ideals of 1977 have been given modern-day punk twist.
‘Rock And Roll World’ sees 999 in a more classic rock mood, using it as a vehicle by which they pass comment on war, greed and green issues. Yes – with the passing of time even old-skool, original punks discover a conscience! ‘Horror Story’ and the following track ‘Stealing Beauty’ are like short visits back to 1977 / 1978. The former using the power of almost- spoken word and shrieked vocals for the chorus shouts, the latter just melodic, fast and furious punk as it always should be. ‘What Do You Know’ continues the trend, while ‘Life Of Crime’ has nuances of Irish stomping folk-punk (Dropkick Murphys style.)
Strangely, for me the final two tracks do not come up to the high standard of the album as a whole. They are more in keeping with the current crop of ‘modern punk’ bands’ attempts, but as 999 there is no need for this ‘experimentation.’ They’ve had thirty-one years to determine what they do best, for crying out loud! However, this does not really detract from an excellent album and welcome return from one of Punk’s finest.