Fear and Whiskey is the fourth studio album by English rock band The Mekons. It was released in 1985 and marked a dramatic shift in their sound following a short hiatus. It is universally viewed as their masterpiece by fans. It is credited as being the first alternative country album, as it blends the band's previously-established punk rock style with a country music sound. The album was initially released by Sin Records to significant critical praise and commercial success. However, due to Sin's small capacity for production and distribution, the album then remained largely unavailable until it was rereleased in 2002 by Quarterstick Records, a subsidiary of Touch and Go Records. The musical style represents a sharp break with the group's previous work, as fiddle, steel guitar, and harmonica are included, but the instrumentation of punk music is also present, particularly on the energetic "Hard to be Human Again". Tom Greenhalgh, one of the primary creative forces in the Mekons, commented that as he listened to a great deal of country music in the early 1980s "pretty soon the difference between the three chords of country and the three chords of punk became blurred." The album closes with a cover of Leon Payne's "Lost Highway". The album's lyrics describe a dark scenario of a community struggling to retain its capacity for joy and humanity through a devastating war. Rock critic Robert Christgau described it as "a sort of concept album sort of about life during wartime".Wikipedia
So you're telling me that a British band did in 1984 what Viagra Boys did on In Spite of Ourselves in 2021, for a whole album, with copious violin, and I didn't listen to any of it until today? Put this directly in my veins, stat. I don't care if it stops holding up eventually: This is exactly for me and there's an entire discography and several relistens ahead. Fine food for my imagination.
Utterly bizarre. Weird rambling speech over punky violins, mad subject matters. Sometimes you hear an album and you have no idea if it’s genius or madness. One star? Five? Who can tell?
A British group that decides to defy expectations by laying fiddles, harmonicas, and country guitar hooks onto a punk-rock foundation should be praised and applauded when it is done as spectacularly as this. Although the war-time themes of the songs would expect you to have a brooding, dark tone, the songs are actually really fun and catchy. I never thought I would hear an album like this, it's an underrated gem. Favorite Song: Country Least Favorite Song: Psycho Cupid
I was brought up on a diet of fear and whiskey. My old man used to beat me black and blue, then douse me in whiskey and set me alight. It was an exciting time to grow up and sculptured me into the well-rounded human I am today.
just not in to diddly dee punk. as soon as the fiddle turns up i lose interest. i used to play football for the bolton irish centre in the north of england celtic supporters tournament. after the football they would hire a function room and there would always be a fucking diddly dee band on and all these english people would sing along to these irish republican songs because they support a scottish football team that has something to do with ireland. all a bit weird and has probably put me off it even more. i'd like to thank buckfast for getting me through that nonsense. the americans seem to bum this kind of irish punk too. fucking history nonces.
Je tenais à m'excuser pour la faute de syntaxe que j'ai commise en rédigeant ma critique de l'album de Gainsbourg. Ça n'arrivera plus.
Best Song: None. Worst Song: Chivalry. What in the 8-bit cowboy is that background instrumental? Overall: I will be surprised if there is a worse vocal performance on this list. This sounds like your milquetoast colleague who always wants to go to karaoke, so you assume they must be able to sing, but when they get on stage they just start loudly talking with the music. And it's interspersed with amateur theatre? Even better. This album is one of the 1001 ways to tell that you've actually already died and you were sent to the bad place.
never heard of this act but really enjoyed this album. normally “british pub band” is a tough sell but it works
A tale of 2 completely different sides to an album. The first side is decent (first song is great and Hard to be Human is very good), but the second side is quality alt-country cowpunk, and definitely worth the listen.
interesting, proboably should listen more before id give it a final rating
Not bad at all actually
I honestly didn’t think I’d like this one, but I did! I guess the whole country punk thing is up my alley.
Medio punk así gracioso. Sin más.
Sons diferentes, interessantes e muito bons
Yeah liked that. Four stars possibly just because it's new to me.
really enjoyed this. great production on the album too
Really good album loved it lots.
Muss ich nochmal an einem ruhigen Abend mit Whiskey hören aber gehört definitiv schon zu meinen persönlichen Neuentdeckungen.
Actually liked this. Will need to relisten to it sometime.
Really good album. Country elements are strong and not half-assed. Musicianship is top notch, and the lyrics were good but hard to follow. This album was a joy.
It’s Cowpunk—what else could you want?
This caught me by surprise. The singer is rarely on pitch and the drum machine is overbearing. Somehow it is post c&w and post punk at the same time. Yet there is a ton of charm here and I love it for its sheer creativity and effort.
im literally obsessed with this album, the clamor! the fiddle!! 10/10 i liked every song on the album 😔
great, kinda weird but i really liked it!!
I dig this! Kinda like if the Clash or even the Smiths made an alt country album. I can hear the influence from this in so much other shit.
Wow, this is an excellent album. It's this great intersection of sounds/genres with lyrics that are darkly poetic and beautiful. The conceptual element of the war pulls everything together really well and is like nothing I've quite heard in a post punk album. The dark subject matter could make an album like this a real slog, but musically it leans to the upbeat, like a lot of the best country music does. The Leon Payne cover at the end is a great choice that really fits with the whole mood of the album. Fave Songs: Abernant 1984/5, Darkness and Doubt, Chivalry, Country
As this started I thought it's not bad but it's also not that good. Then by the 3rd / 4th tracks (Hard to be Human Again and Darkness and Doubt) it gets very weird but in a good way. I'll probably be the first to ever draw this parallel but the weirdness reminds me of that Brazilian psychedelic band Os Mutatntes. The weirdness is extensive and covers not only the lyrics and melodies but also the singing and the instrumentals. This LP is definitely weird. Nothing wrong with weird; there is good weird and bad weird. For me it's good weird. 3 ratings are so middle of the road I feel I need to avoid a 3 since it doesn't work for weird bands.
Una altra de les joies per descobrir dels 80. Punk, country, folk, tot barrejat amb molt de gust i inspiració. Una mena de Levellers accelerats, The Pogues meets Buzzcocks amb temes tan bons com 'Darkness and Doubt', 'Hard to Be Human Again' o la versió de 'Lost Highway'. Sempre l'he tingut al radar i havia escoltat alguna vegada, però aquesta és la primera on finalment he captat la raó de la seva inclusió a la llista
1985 - British Post-Punk
I liked this. True post punk where they could experiment with the formula.
great mix of punky vibes and country sounds. Interesting lyrical exploration which tracks for cold war and unfortunately can remain pretty relevant.
Not at all what I was expecting… I thought American garage rock. The is not that! Very enjoyable; needs a revisit though!
Fun and samey all at once. It plays the one note well.
Based on the descrption, I wasn't sure I'd like it, but it was actually good
Pub cowpunk? Shambolic and odd with post-punk spikiness.
British Post-punk from Leeds with a fiddle? Yeah, why not. This is my first time listening to the Mekons and the reminded me of a post-punk meets Waterboys sound (at least on this album). A lot of the songs on the album seemed to be about war or the aftermath of war but that was just a first impression, and I could be dead wrong. It was a pleasant enough listen to make me want to come back to the band and check out some of their other stuff so 4 stars for Fear and Whiskey.
Good. I think I need to listen again
Half of the album sounded more like Irish Punk, and the other like 80s obscura. That's not a complaint, lol
Grata sorpresa este disco, no conocía para nada la banda y ahora me llevo varias canciones para mezclar en mixes
Solid, consistent. I liked it, not much to say.
I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I don't know why. There is something about this mixture of punk, folk and wave that somehow speaks to me. I couldn't recall any individual songs, but the album as a whole is a really nice listen. 4/5
A very pleasing mix of post-punk, country and folk. Definitely grows on you
Not my thing, but was interesting.
not bad at all, i liked their other songs too
I didn't write the review immediately after listening to the album. I think it was a punk album that include is violin. It was pretty good. Obviously not too memorable.
I respect what's going on here, but the execution doesn't do much for me. Maybe I'd just need more time with it.
Feels like the talking head but with more of an Irish instrument choice hits liked it
This could either grow on me or become very annoying - not sure which yet.
Folk. Un poco coñazo.
This didn’t do it for me
A bit of David Bowie vibes, but not bad! A decent listen.
Listenable but not really my cup if tea. ***
Decent album. Last dace is the best song for me.
Weird. Reminded me of The The
this felt like a talking heads album, but mediocre
Interesting - I always thought the Mekons were American. A couple of really good songs. I imagine they are listened to by very serious men.
No los tenía muy controlados. Si me compro el disco algún día, podría ponerlo al lado de los de los Pogues y detrás de los de Clash. Esta escucha me ha merecido la pena.
Lustige Mischung aus pogues und clash. Aber gehört haben muss man das nicht
Si l'on passe outre le fait que cet album soit un plagia des Midnight Runners, ainsi qu'outre le fait que ce groupe culminant à 40 000 auditeurs mensuels n'a sa place dans cette liste que grâce à sa complicité avec Robert Dimery, on peut alors apprécier l'album pour ce qu'il est, sympathique.
Folkiger Punk, Punkiger Folk. Gut hörbar, aber nicht mein Ding!
It was cute, not outstanding
Punk rock and country kind of sound. Its ok I guess.
I think I like this album a lot to be honest. It's got like this almost blues/country punk sound to it. My stand out song on this one is Last Dance. Something about it really just stood out to me, Made me emotional. Just that whole "I wanted to say fall in love, I wanted to say fall in love with me." Just emotions man. Better than I thought it was going to be for sure.
Un bon album rock dans ce genre. 3.70
They sound like the Clash playing Dexys on this one
did not seem to be mixed between the two styles well enough.
Takes the good things about country (e.g. melodies and instruments) and fuses it with post-punk. It works well, and it's highly innovative, but it looks like it never quite caught on. Maybe because the genre is just punk with country inspiration, and that's not enough of a gimmick to lead a movement. The tracks are all interesting and aesthetically pleasing. The first half is the most experimental, and it takes more inspiration from indie rock and pop than country. It's not coherent and the production feels like a mess, but they're ok. It wasn't until "Psycho Cupid" where I felt a bit annoyed. Which is perfect because the second side switched gears and actually reminded us what this album is about. Country and punk. Those last few songs flow together well and use country influences super well. I almost feel inspired to try what they did to punk. I don't think it's a masterpiece like others think, but it's different in a really good way, and I would give the album a 4 if both sides were like this. Favorite song is "Last Dance." It's like if a country club accidentally invited a punk vocalist but decided to go with it.
Not bad, but didn't stand out too much to me
Just fascinated by the fact that a British band sounds so country. A few songs were enjoyable, but wasn't really a favorite.
Really good. punky-arty-country Brit-pop-ish fun
The countrified sound must have thrown off their early fans. The first few songs are catchy, eclectic & the violin is a nice touch. Later they remind me a bit of the Pogues. The singer is hard to listen to for a full album.
This was pretty good and I guess alt country is a thing. While I didn’t mind listening to it, I can’t say I liked it enough to ever listen to again. 3
A decent record, 80s rock with a country twist
Maybe I'm just charmed by the novelty, but this is great.
I dig it
grew on me over the course of the album
It’s a decent album but not my style
HAPPY FOLK TUNES, CHIVALRY RELISTEN
I am sure I have heard something from the Mekons before. After listening to this album, I'm still not sure what I've heard from the band before this album. The album has a sense of overcast and tempered dread, without giving up to being fully catastrophic. I enjoyed the album, but I'm not sure if I will remember this album long enough to come back for a second listen.I am sure I have heard something from the Mekons before. After listening to this album, I'm still not sure what I've heard from the band before this album. The album has a sense of overcast and tempered dispair, without giving up to absolute dread. I often like a dark tinge to the music I listen to. I enjoyed the album, but I'm not sure if I will remember this album long enough to come back for a second listen.
Interesting - but not sure I would want to listen to that more than once
Joy Division really was one of the most influential bands of the 80's, couldn't stop thinking of them while listening to this album. Not to say it's bad at all, I quite enjoyed it, but felt too mixed on it for a few songs. A pretty nice album if you're a fan of punk/alternative/Irish pub sounds. 3.5/5
Totally unfamiliar with the Mekons. Hard to get an accurate impression after one listen
This is why I am here, to discover bands and albums that I have no clue about. I went into this hoping for good things. It was fine though, nothing special on first listen.
The mix of indie, punk and folk is really different and interesting. A through line from this through Belle and Sebastian to Black Country New Road is quite apparent. Not every experiment works, but when they do, as they do with Psycho Cupid it's transcendent. When they don't, it's just good. Flitcraft has a lovely Dexys vibe too - I can see the links - Bands that fiercely do their own thing regardless of the fashions.
Decent. Varied between thinking "is this a precursor to I, Ludicrous" and "No, this is a bit more punky". Decent listen. Would I listen again? Probably not. Would I turn it off if it came up on random places? Probably not.
I knew the Mekons a little bit from hearing them on compilations from their more punk days. This one is a lot more experimental, some of which works, some of which really doesn't, and is much different sounding than what I expected based on the little I knew going in.
Very eclectic. Enjoyed probably slightly more than half the tracks though. Shame that the lead track was bad though as it coloured my opinion of the whole thing.
Good album but I don’t like fractured country lol. Favs were chivalry and lost highway
Another album that is new to me. I loved it from the first opening seconds on Chivalry. It reminded me how brilliant albums use to be when they actually sounded like albums. 35-40 minutes is the perfect length. No ta to add ons and bonus tracks. Wonderfully wonky and unlike anything else around the time. You can hear the influences this had as post-punk grew up to become something a little more mature and socially aware.
Yeah ok 80s pommy pub rock sorta stuff. Never heard it before yet it sounds like something I've heard a million times. Songwriting is kinda low effort. Nowhere near as energetic as the pogues, or as moody as the cure or smiths. Overall it's as generic as it gets, but it's not awful and it only goes for half an hour. 3/5.
Pretty nice stuff. It keeps a solid beat going and I like when the strings are added into the mix, but I don't think that I'll ever really go out of my way to listen to this again, either. C
Couldn't get into the vocals. Everything else was fine.
Initially thought this was going to be a 4/5, but as the songs progressed, I liked it less and less. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't especially good either. 3/5
This is pretty cool. Janky, shambling, unusual. Reminds me of a lot of downright odd-sounding first wave punk like the Raincoats. Or like if Big Audio Dynamite went into British folk and American country instead of hip hop and reggae. The vague violen melodies over droning bass reminds of Richard Thompson's approach, but more punk and experimental.
Fine, has some nice bits.
What if country music ended up in a London pub and drank too much? This is the album. Bar bonding singalong of Hank Williams, the social commentary of punk, and the rainy days of The Cure. It's a weird bastard of a child that is surprisingly enjoyable.
Some great songs, but not really a great album as a whole for me. I definitely see the appeal and why it became so influential, I just wish it was more consistent.
I can acknowledge that this is good. However, it's not my taste. Not a big fan of the vocals or the genre.
Rating: 6/10 Best songs: Last dance
When this was described as British pub punk, I assumed it would be similar to Irish pub punk. No, it's a very distinct genre of its own. Interesting listen.
So I sampled a bit of the Mekons first two albums and, yeah, they couldn't have gone on that way. To paraphrase from the cinematic masterpiece Van Wilder, their previous work was decorated in post-punk f#ck. I'm not sure I'd call this country as much as Gaelic folk - of course mixed with post-punk or new wave(ish) alternative. The Dropkick Murphys probably owe the Mekons some credit. This album is admirable and far more palatable than their initial work, but I still don't think I want to make it my scene. I'll give a shout out to what I thought were the best songs - Trouble Down South, Abernant 1984/5, and Last Dance.
Combining country and punk. Not something I would consider. On some of the pieces, it works. But doing it for the whole album, the novelty wore thin for me. And that spoken word piece, WTH was THAT all about? I totally get the vibe they were going for, but I wasn't feeling it. The best country punk song I ever heard was "The Country Death Song" by Violent Femmes. This was NOT comparable. Fortunately it was only 35 minutes. But still, not enough to sustain me. Give it 2.6, round up to 3. Moving on...
Touches of the Cure, a solid listen on our car trip into Malaysia
Not sure I quite get the almost surreal hype that, apparently, surrounds this album. Sure, for the most parts it’s a thrilling and enjoyable ride, but the first half feels slightly too long. The second half picks up the pace nicely but unfortunately ends on a lackluster note. Best: Trouble Down South / Hard to be Human Again / Last Dance Worst: Darkness and Doubt / Lost Highway
Things I like: - Post-punk - Marxist ideals Things I do not like: - Fear - Whiskey - The fiddle With each listen the underlying melodies surface more and more, and 'Last Dance' is starting to convince me that perhaps the fiddle has some "raison d'être".
Interesting blend of country and 80’s indie rock. Some catchy tunes included
Interesting album with a concept that gives it charms to a lesser known band from the UK. Still active today and doing great.
Pretty good, some country influence but not as much as I was expecting Might want to try out more of their discography at some point, seems like they changed their sound a lot
It was decent. Nothing particularly memorable
Overall I liked this, not sure how much I'll be listening to it again though. I'd probably give it a 3.5 if I could.
It made me want to go listen to The Wedding Present and The Go-Betweens. This is a style of music that I usually love but I found this album fall flat in comparison to the aforementioned bands
I like the vibe of this. Some good driving beats, and I like the violins.
Interessante combinatie, nog weinig gehoord. Maar de uitvoering was niet altijd even super goed
T3B 1. Trouble Down South 2. Chivalry 3. Flitcraft Very unique! Great listen, hard to score.
It was ok.
This sounds like what would happen if you mashed The Smiths & The Pogues together. It's not bad but it is confused. Not sure I'd listen again.
Kinda strange country-folky rock album. Sadly I couldn't particularly get into this one very much, though some of the songs had interesting lyrics. Favourite: Abernant 1984/5
I thought it was fine probably
This album definitely gets points for creativity regardless of how much I enjoyed it. The mix of punk and country works really well if you’re into both of those things. Unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan of the punk side and didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to. Either way points for being unique
Was cool at first, but then it started to feel like that Clash record we listened to…annoying Defiantly interesting parts, but know when to reel it back
Interesting mixture of country, rock and psychadelic effects, but i hate country
meh. rockabilly is not my thing
Don‘t like his voice. Rather boring.
i was not ready for this.
I like the early stuff from the mekons more. I found this to be a bit of a chore even with the short runtime. Don't dig the folksier arrangements.
Fine. Middle of the road. Nothing to rave about.
Not for me.
A little bit country. A lot punk. Didn't grab me.
Had to source this elsewhere as for some reason Spotify didn't have any songs to play from it. I didn't enjoy the vocals, the songs on the whole didn't interest me either but some of them were okay.
Alt-country/post punk. Occasionally weird, occasionally good. BT: Chivalry, Hard To Be Human Again, Last Dance
Didn’t enjoy it and didn’t even notice when it had finished.
Not crazy about this one. 2
Perhaps a groundbreaking band, but not a groundbreaking album. Good enough not to be bad.
80s speaky-pop, but not that catchy
Boring. 2 starz.
Eh. I know why this is here but I just didn’t find it memorable.
Is it punk? Is it country? It surely isn't good.
Decent instrumentals. Terrible lyrics and vocals.
Not the biggest fan of country music but it wasn't a bad listen. The first half was better than the second though, with great songs like Chivalry and Hard to be Human which were stronger compared to the more country songs after.
Not great, kinda like flogging molly and the clash mixed together.
Interchangeable with any other folk/rock nonsense.
Occasionally threatens to be really good. But sadly never materialises. Most sounds like a band failing to be interesting but succeeding at being annoying
Puha en omgang. Totalt stressende at høre på, med et vivar af instrumenter og lyde. Nej tak
Reminds me of the Pogues and Dexy’s. I’m bewildered by two comments that say that they sound like the Talking Heads though, huh?? I just can’t relate to country or punk so this is not my jam.
2.4 - album felt included more for its noteworthiness than its quality. Appreciated the eclectic and nature, could hear a lot of influence for The Pogues, Dropkick Murphy’s and a bit of Blur throughout.
So British. This not doing anything for me aside from a guitar solo or two at the end of the album.
The production is pretty good. I hate the vocals. Honestly think I'd enjoy this more as an instrumental album.
Obviously English style singing which is good, just a little too punky with the out of tune singing. I only really liked the first song. Nice idea to do a punk/country crossover (early alt-country?).
Off pitch is not a good attribute, no.
I liked the idea but poor execution
Some nice ideas, the Mekons are really an idea band - as in I like the idea of the Mekons more than I like their music. Was it really the first alt-country album? Anyway, not much distinguished music.
One listen sufficient. There is a reason this didn't get released widely in 1985. Not shocking, but not good.
“Meh”kons Good title
Ik voel de potentie maar dit album is echt veel te vaag. Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat dit serieus bedoeld is geweest geworden. **
Ehhh Never got into this band. Don't think this sound every worked well.
Someone’s drunk uncle recorded an album of himself doing karaoke at the pub.
I was excited about this one. I mean “Fear and Whiskey” is basically my personal mantra. Alas, while it was definitely interesting, I wasn’t a huge fan. Sorry.
Wow. Nobody gives a shit about this record. The first track has 161,000 plays on Spotify, but the others have less than half as many. Another critically-acclaimed UK post-punk record on this list. It's a genre I'm inclined to like. But what sets this one apart from the rest? After listening, I'm not sure I know. They are a tight band, and they are less metronomic than other bands from this moment. The drum machines weren't taking over. That's good I guess.
I had higher hopes for this. It passed me by a bit as punky irish music only slightly more modern than The Pogues.
Folky punk is kinda ehhh to my tastes, but this wasn’t tooo bad. I won’t be actively tracking more down from Mekons, but I won’t shy away from it either. 2.5
Shannah missed most but didn't particularly enjoy what she heard. (1.5/5) Jane thought it was very 80s and a bit schizophrenic. (A generous 2/5) Bill commends them for writing a bunch of songs that weren't just love songs. (2/5) Few songs that Conor'd come back to. (2.5/5) 2/5
Another 90’s British punk group that sounds like a 90’s British punk group
Kinda folksy Indi stuff. Not awful sounding but not my vibe. 2.5
Interesting mix of genres but ultimately not for me.
ooof 80s shouty trash no thank u sir
Nope, not for me thanks. Bad. My dad would like this.
Aldrei hef ég heyrt um þetta band áður og þessi plata gerir svo sem ekkert fyrir mig. Skv wikipediu er þetta fyrsta platan sem er stimpluð "alternative country" og, já, sá stimpill passar alveg. Það eru samt alveg pönkaðir undirtónar hér og þar.
At the intersection of ‘80’s hair metal, country and punk lies this album.
Irish folk post punk?,
Started promising but it was not for me
It was okay, doubt I'll listen to it again
This album is kind of funny, the country elements tinge it all over a lot heavier than I was expecting. I wasn't expecting it to feel so disjointed, but maybe that's what you get from one of the first to do it. I definitely consider the influence of traditional folk music to be a lot more present than country music, particularly considering what side of the Atlantic The Mekons hail from. Enjoyable enough.