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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Fear and Whiskey

Mekons

1985

Buy At Rough Trade
Fear and Whiskey
Album Summary

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

Rating

2.65

Votes

10184
Genres
Post Punk
Rock

Reviews

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Wed Oct 27 2021
3

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?

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Sun Jun 06 2021
5

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.

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Wed Mar 16 2022
1

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.

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Fri Aug 27 2021
4

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.

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Fri Aug 27 2021
2

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.

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Thu Sep 09 2021
2

Occasionally threatens to be really good. But sadly never materialises. Most sounds like a band failing to be interesting but succeeding at being annoying

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Wed Apr 19 2023
1

I'd like to think that there are hundreds of subgenres of music, and with this list being only 1001 long, the best 1-10 albums of any subgenre are represented here. If this album isn't right at the bottom of this particular subgenre then god help the rest of the albums. Jesus Christ.

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Wed Aug 18 2021
4

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

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Fri Apr 16 2021
4

I honestly didn’t think I’d like this one, but I did! I guess the whole country punk thing is up my alley.

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Sun Mar 14 2021
5

never heard of this act but really enjoyed this album. normally “british pub band” is a tough sell but it works

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Mon Oct 05 2020
4

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.

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Thu Dec 10 2020
4

interesting, proboably should listen more before id give it a final rating

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

Medio punk así gracioso. Sin más.

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Fri Mar 19 2021
4

Sons diferentes, interessantes e muito bons

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Thu Jun 03 2021
4

Yeah liked that. Four stars possibly just because it's new to me.

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Fri Feb 05 2021
4

really enjoyed this. great production on the album too

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Really good album loved it lots.

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Wed May 26 2021
4

Actually liked this. Will need to relisten to it sometime.

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Thu Jul 15 2021
2

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.

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Sun Feb 27 2022
2

One listen sufficient. There is a reason this didn't get released widely in 1985. Not shocking, but not good.

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Thu Jan 13 2022
5

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.

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Wed Jul 20 2022
5

It’s Cowpunk—what else could you want?

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Thu Aug 04 2022
5

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.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
5

im literally obsessed with this album, the clamor! the fiddle!! 10/10 i liked every song on the album 😔

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

I knew nothing of this album...or band...went in cold. And... I think I reaaaaaally like this. Added the whole album to my playlist. A weird mix of British Punk and folk/country meets a early David Lynch film? I don't know...but I liked it. saying 4.5 but giving it 5 stars.

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Mon Jun 05 2023
5

Loved it. one of those albums you can't explain why :)

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Muss ich nochmal an einem ruhigen Abend mit Whiskey hören aber gehört definitiv schon zu meinen persönlichen Neuentdeckungen.

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Thu Feb 02 2023
4

This had me reaching for so much other music as so many 80's & 70's elements (XTC, Police, even They might be giants, early Pulp). So thanks for the discovery, that's why I'm here!

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Fri Apr 14 2023
4

Oh ya, this is right up my alley. Like the Clash but with a fiddle. Very reminiscent of The Pogues, and a slight attitude of Johnny Cash. There are a couple more strange avant garde type songs that were misses for me. But overall, this is a very fun, well written and ahead-of-its-time punk folk album. 4/5 Favorites: Chivalry, Hard to Be Human Again, Last Dance, Lost Highway Least Favorites: Trouble Down South, Psycho Cupid,

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Fri Feb 24 2023
3

I normally don't like this type of music, but this one is just sloppy enough to appeal to me. It's closer to Meat Puppets and The Waterboys than it is from The Pogues or whatever, which is a good thing.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
2

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.

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Mon Apr 04 2022
2

Someone’s drunk uncle recorded an album of himself doing karaoke at the pub.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
1

Sounds like Morrissey, terrible.

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Wed Jan 25 2023
1

Kinda sounded like Fred Armisen doing an 80s uk punk band skit

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Thu Oct 12 2023
1

You have to be pretty into British New Wave to find this band, and it shows. Probably a good deep cut for someone into that scene, but not for the average listener.

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Wed Feb 14 2024
1

just because an album is weird, doesn't mean it should be on this list. all the elements are decent enough but they do not work together at all. the singer is especially terrible, no singing, just talking and raising or lowering his volume occasionally

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Fri Mar 08 2024
1

Woof. The vocals in this first song are atrocious. If the rest of the album follows suit, this is going to be a tough one to finish. "Hard to be Human Again" was a welcome change in the sound once it started playing. Not my favorite type of music, but seems like it's much more in this band's wheelhouse. The rest of the album had a couple of other spots that piqued my ears a bit, but it was overall a relief to finish the album and move on to something better - I think there's a very good reason that some of the songs had less than 7K plays on YouTube Music.

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Sun Mar 10 2024
1

I think they just gave some microphones and instruments to a bunch of random people in the underground at 2 am and hit record. The "singers" might have some ideas about what notes are supposed to sound like, but I'm not entirely sure. At first I thought they opened with the worst song on the album, but somehow it just kept getting worse.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

I really enjoyed this, it’s weird and I haven’t heard much like it, which makes me like it more! Adding punk influence to any other music genre makes an album sound like heaven to me. Fav songs: Psycho Cupid, Darkness and Doubt, Last Dance Least fav songs: I liked them all

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Mon Sep 04 2023
5

Suprised with how good it is

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Thu Nov 23 2023
5

9/10 absolutely wonderful I truly adored this

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Mon Jan 15 2024
5

A pioneering cowpunk album that may well be the birth of alt country and I love the synth drums.

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Thu Jan 25 2024
5

Oha, was ist das denn? Interessant, originell, kein 0815-Sound, also toll!

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Sun May 23 2021
4

great, kinda weird but i really liked it!!

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Wed Aug 04 2021
4

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.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
4

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

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Wed Nov 24 2021
4

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.

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Fri Dec 24 2021
4

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

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Thu Mar 10 2022
4

I liked this. True post punk where they could experiment with the formula.

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Fri Mar 11 2022
4

great mix of punky vibes and country sounds. Interesting lyrical exploration which tracks for cold war and unfortunately can remain pretty relevant.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

Not at all what I was expecting… I thought American garage rock. The is not that! Very enjoyable; needs a revisit though!

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Fri May 20 2022
4

Fun and samey all at once. It plays the one note well.

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Sun May 29 2022
4

Based on the descrption, I wasn't sure I'd like it, but it was actually good

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Sun Jun 19 2022
4

Pub cowpunk? Shambolic and odd with post-punk spikiness.

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Wed Jun 29 2022
4

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.

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Fri Jul 22 2022
4

Good. I think I need to listen again

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Thu Aug 25 2022
4

Half of the album sounded more like Irish Punk, and the other like 80s obscura. That's not a complaint, lol

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Fri Nov 04 2022
4

Grata sorpresa este disco, no conocía para nada la banda y ahora me llevo varias canciones para mezclar en mixes

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

First impression wasn't great but the album grew on me, and the last two songs I ended up adding to the list. Quick thoughts, they're a bit like Diet Pogues, and Lost Highway sounds suspiciously close to Dirty Old Town.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

Solid, consistent. I liked it, not much to say.

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Fri Nov 18 2022
4

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

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Wed Nov 23 2022
4

A very pleasing mix of post-punk, country and folk. Definitely grows on you

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Mon Dec 12 2022
4

Medio punk así gracioso. Sin más.

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Fri Jan 06 2023
4

Kinda cute. Like in a Belle and Sebastian way.

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Fri Jan 06 2023
4

This record must be the primary influence of bands like Wilco. Kind of an alt-country vibe, though to me there is much more to it: English punk, new wave, some reggae, some rockabilly, even some folk. Has there every been a country song with polyrhythms? Very interesting record that tackles heavy themes of life in a village during wartime. Another great representation of the type of album I'm hoping to encounter on this list.

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Sun Jan 08 2023
4

Whenever I listen to a band or album that I wasn't previously familiar with, I try to put them in a category - what other music are they similar to? When I read on Wikipedia that this was considered an alternative country album I was expecting something Wilco-esque, but this was more raucous, more punk-like. Reminded me of The Pogues, or maybe Billy Bragg a little bit. In any case, I liked it a lot and plan to delve deeper into the Mekons music. 4 stars.

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Fri Jan 13 2023
4

I've heard OF the Mekons, but can't say I've ever actually heard them. I wasn't sure what to expect from this album, but it wasn't this. I thought they were a punk band, but this ranges from art rock to alternative country. A very interesting listen, and I have no doubt, one that could easily grow to be a favorite.

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Mon Jan 23 2023
4

Somewhere between The Fall and New Model Army. Eccentric in the best way.

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Fri Feb 24 2023
4

I've always liked the idea of Mekons more than the actuality. This album is really good, but not as good as I want it to be. It doesn't grab me by the scruff of the neck and tell me how good it is. I really like it, but at the same time, don't feel the need to ever hear it again. But if I do, great.

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Thu Mar 23 2023
4

Tom Greenhalgh's quote, "pretty soon the difference between the three chords of country and the three chords of punk became blurred," really just sum this album up. The affinity between punk and country really does make sense and the Mekons bring it to life with swagger and confidence. What really struck me about this album is how contemporary it sounds. Freak Folk really came into its own in the late 90s and 2000s and remains a huge influence on contemporary music. This album predates that by almost 15 years. The experimental art collective style works well for the Mekons and brings an element of subversion to traditional instrumentation. Overall, a fantastic listen!

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Wed Mar 29 2023
4

legal o som, punk tem até un violino

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Mon May 22 2023
4

Fun! I bet these folks were a blast to see live! I do enjoy a good shambolic mash up of folk and punk - CF, The Pogues... Fave track - "Psycho Cupid (Danceband On The Edge Of Time)" was kinda post-rocky, with the spoken word biz going on. "Abernant 1984-5" for something more conventional...

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Mon May 22 2023
4

Wow, what a surprise. When Chivalry kicked in I was like ok, these guys sound pretty cool and then Trouble Down South kicked in and blew me away. Hard to Be Human Again brought some normality back along with Darkness and Doubt before Psycho Cupid just leaves my jaw on the floor. I look forward to spending some more time with this.

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Mon Jun 12 2023
4

It’s definitely more alternative than country. I actually thought they were from Ireland after listening to it. Pretty good stuff. I really enjoyed it. It is the kind of music I look forward to hearing again and again. 4/5 Standouts: Hard to Be Human Again, Last Dance, Lost Highway Other very good tracks: Chivalry, Trouble Down South, Darkness and Doubt, Psycho-Cupid, Flitcraft, Country, Abernaut 1984/5

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Fri Jun 23 2023
4

This is crazy man. Went in expecting regular alt country and got way more. Awesome

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Sat Jul 01 2023
4

The punk-rock-country fusion was a bit jarring at first but eventually won me over. This album sounds a lot more modern than a 1985 release. Standouts: Hard to Be Human; Last Dance.

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Sun Jul 02 2023
4

British country music - by a punk band - that is better than it has any right to be. Not quite 5 🌟 (that is for the best of the best) but a really solid 4!

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Thu Jul 06 2023
4

I don't know what the hell I just listened to or how to describe it, but I love it. Definitely will revisit. 4/5.

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Wed Aug 23 2023
4

Porto-Viagra Boys Favourite tracks: Chivalry, Darkness and Doubt, Last Dance, Lost Highway

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Thu Aug 24 2023
4

A punk country album?! I’m interested… And interesting this was. It sounds like a lot of fun was had making this. The instruments are varied and well–played. I liked the unique songs. Nice!

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Thu Aug 24 2023
4

After a rough start, I quite enjoyed this.

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Thu Aug 24 2023
4

The description of punk and country was a bit more interesting than the album ended up being, but I got some enjoyment out of it.

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Thu Sep 14 2023
4

Celtic Punk? That’s new! I’m liking European 80’s bands more and more, this is no exception.

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Wed Sep 20 2023
4

Really not my cup of tea, but not a bad album. It has it's charm and beauty. It is just not meant for me.

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