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    The Libertines

    Up The Bracket 9 ( 2002 )
    Vertigo / Death On The Stairs / Horrorshow / Time For Heroes / Boys In The Band / Radio America / Up The Bracket / Tell The King / The Boy Looked At Johnny / Begging / The Good Old Days / I Get Along

    There's something a little Buzzcocks about it all, something a little Clash and something a little Undertones. The Clash aspect may purely be because Mick Jones co-produced this Libertines debut set. The Undertones thing may purely be because of a certain way the singer sings his vowels, or something, even though he isn't Irish, as was the singer from The Undertones. The Buzzcocks thing may purely be because this album contains twelve sparkling punky poppy guitar songs full of genuine morning freshness and energy, even if the band themselves reputedly get upto all sorts of 'dubious' rock n roll activities! Let's just say it now, and say it proud. The Libertines are fantastic, and a great thing to have around. The first time I heard the lead single and this albums title song, I was jumping around the room. If we must use loose and largely untrue Undertones comparisons, let's just say this. 'Up The Bracket' the song, is better than any Undertones song i've heard, with the possible exception of John Peel favourite 'Teenage Kicks', and i'm serious about that. Second song 'Death On The Stairs' is just so jam packed full of hooks and all it is, is guitar pop. Punky, new wavey, any other 'ey' you care to think of. A damn great song that's perfectly structured with funny quirky and glorious lyrics, wonderfully characteristic vocals. 'Death On The Stairs' lasts for three and a half minutes, perfect classic pop single length. 'Horrorshow' is an instant foot stomping classic with shouted delirious vocals at certain points that I simply can't resist. It all rattles along at such a pace, you'll be losing your breath, panting sexually and wondering what the hell is going on. Really, you will! Okay, so maybe not, but damn fine song, you know? Second single and another wonder 'Time For Heroes' reminds me of the romance of The Undertones, if nothing else. If you don't know what that means, then you may as well not be reading this review until you've listened to a bit more Undertones. And i'll say it again, The Libertines don't really sound that much like The Undertones, but there is something here. I doubt The Undertones ever made an album better than this, for a start.

    Some of the guitars in 'Boys In The Band' remind me of early Fall material. You know, very early Fall, 'Live At The Witch Trials' Fall material. Anybody that knows me will quickly realise from that reference alone that i'm likely to love this. And then 'Boys In The Band' goes deliriously bouncy and happy, and then The Fall guitars return, all scratchy and genuinely loose and glorious. 'Radio America' is very sweet, 'Tell The King' announcing itself with a thrush (?) of guitars and so it goes on. To be truthful, the album loses itself towards the end. Repetition, and repetition that is clearly inferior to the material that has gone before. 'Up The Bracket' manages a '9'. Without this falling towards the end, falling enjoyably by the way, who knows what kind of rating we'd have ourselves here?

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    Readers Comments

    Great album, though I'm not sure if it quite deserves a 9. Like you said, it loses its way a bit towards the end and 'Radio America' is pretty bad. You probably wont agree, but it reminds me a bit of The Wedding Present, because its got all the energy of punk but with a pop sensibility. Its good there is a band about who are not afraid to write great pop songs. I've heard the guy in The Libertines go on about how much he loves The Smiths and that shines through also. Great lyrics, too.

    hana i_love_bam666@hotmail.com
    couldnt fault this album, never heard anything like it, pure genius, and pete doherty is outta prison and betta than eva!

    David d_bankier@hotmail.com
    I agree with your rating, but I don't agree that it gets worse near the end. "I Get Along" is one of the best three tracks here, along with the title track and "Horroshow". The re-release is better, since it has the debut single "What A Waster" too, and some videos. I've seen them live, they were superb.

    Jonny jonnyrickwood@hotmail.com
    I bought this album after downloading "Death on the Stairs" The end of the album (Until "I get along" and "What a Waster") is different to the start but the whole album to me shows how diverse the band are. My personal favourite has to be "I get Along". they are awesome live, even better with pete.

    Dan Daniellomas48@hotmail.com
    I think its a great great great record, a masterpiece!! I think its up there with The Jams All mod cons, Madness present the rise and fall and The Clash' Give em enough rope! Its cool!!

    arcadianlibertine filthymcnasties@yahoo.com
    9 is very harsh indeed, even rating thiz absolutely slendid debut a mere 10 dozent do it justice at all! was thinking more along the 100 mark myself! who created that 'rating out of 10, nosense anyways? oh, and 'the libertines' should be rated higher also! hail sir pete, the greatest songwriter since morrissey!

    mark mark1987bwfc@msn.com
    Personally I believe that this is one of the greatest Albums ever, it never loses any of it's infectiousness even after many many listens.... there is not one bad song on the album, including radio america which is a beautiful jaunty example of how the Libertines can master acoustic songs equally as good as punk rock anthems!! only slightly better than "The Libertines" due to the original nostalgia connected with the fact it is the debut... surely an album to propel the Libertines to rock legends... in my opinion better than anything The Clash did!

    The Libertines 9 ( 2004 )
    Can't Stand Me Know / Last Post On The Bugle / Don't Be Shy / The Man Who Would Be King / Narcissist / The Ha Ha Wall / Arbeit Macht Frei / Campaign Of Hate / What Katie Did / Tomblands / The Saga / Road To Ruin / What Became Of The Likely Lads?

    I wrote the review above for The Libertines debut album, when few people knew who they were. I wrote it within days of it coming out, before the media really got a grip and a hold of the group. It was an honest and refreshing debut album. Pete Doherty and Carl Barat at the time were written about as being soul-brothers - The Libertines as a highly promising new band. That was all, there was no zeitgeist, no situation wherby The Libertines are now known to people who have never heard a single one of their songs. The situation where Pete is now exiled from the group is very sad. He writes most of their best songs, after all. The title song of the debut, 'Time For Heroes', both Pete Doherty songs, primarily. The writing credits are very democratic, no single group member is singled out. These songs become Libertines songs. Still, Pete pens the best tunes on this, the 2nd Libertines album. His co-writer and soul-brother Carl Barat, has said The Libertines will not continue writing and recording without Pete. Well, they couldn't, could they? The situation is very complex and this page would get very long if I went into all of the details. There is another possibility, Pete has a new band called 'Bambyshambles'. They are due to release their debut album, sometime. We could have a Pete-less Libs and Babyshambles, as well. Yet, that would probably be a diluting of talents. Still, we should move on. We should talk about the actual music that is being produced. With Pete seemingly set on being another Rock N Roll casualty, sometimes the music itself is forgotten.

    The music lives upto the hype, bearing in mind the hype has been at a ridiculous level. The very first single, the lead off song, 'Can't Stand Me Now', is just delirious brilliance. It's one of those songs you wait for something for, in this case, the Dylan-style harmonica break two-thirds of the way through. That's not all, though. The lyrics are clearly about Carl and Pete, the beginning few lines sound like a classic Smiths song, the rest of the song sounds better than The Clash, etc, etc. It really is an instant wonder and probably the only song here that realistically could have been first single. It deserved to reach number one, it reached number two. Their biggest hit yet and sign of the phenomenon they have become. 'Last Post On The Bugle' continues very well from the first song, 'Don't Be Shy' is so very catchy and melodic. Did you really have any worries that The Libertines second album wouldn't live upto their hype, to their magnificent debut? Better is to come, fourth song 'The Man Who Would Be King' contains Smiths influences in the guitar, in the structure. This song almost points to the album being The Libertines 'Meat Is Murder', only it isn't quite. It's somewhat better than that. Still, 'The Man Who Would Be King' is intelligent, stunningly beautiful and crazy. The craziness comes from The Libertines being a little more slap-dash than before, not quite as together as before. Their inate genius shines through, however. The fact that this album isn't as immediate as the album it follows, the fact that is isn't quite as crowd-pleasing, eventually just adds depth to the whole enterprise. They've written songs about their experiences. They've had more experiences in a couple of years than most bands do in a lifetime.

    This is starting to be a long review. I didn't want it to be, I wanted to sum up in a single sentence what The Libertines are starting to mean to people, but I can't. Well, let's take 'Music When The Lights Go Out', it's just so affecting and you can read so much into it. Personally, the thought of no longer hearing 'the music' means I may as well be dead. The Libertines are first and foremost huge fans of music, of various genres, which they meld together well. 'Music When The Lights Go Out' is melodic and delicate. It may no please fans of 'Horrorshow' from their debut, but The Libertines have moved on. We've a couple of punk type thrashes, generally not as enjoyable as the more melodic material. The faster punkier material here doesn't fare as well as such material did on their debut. Everything else is better, however. 'What Katie Did' is such a delight! Silly doo-wop backing vocals, back to motown, etc, etc. The style of the playing, the style of production and recording is absolutely perfect. Perhaps this is why Pete needs The Libertines. The Libertines enables Pete to really record his wonderful songs the way they deserve to be. The Babyshambles album might be just that, a shambles. Yet, Pete is the one that has that spark. Carl is more methodical, the rhythm section are superb whatever, and shouldn't be forgotten. I don't quite know what else to say, apart from this the first new album in many many years that I simply cannot put down. At all.

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    Readers Comments

    awomanontheedge HistoricRocker@aol.com
    Great album... not increbily better than the debut, but still better. Anyway, it was hard to put the debut to fault wasn't it? Deserves the extra half star. "The Last Post On The Bugle" is such an energetic and delightful piece. You shoul've mentioned that a bit more. Good review. Although 'm tired of hearing all this about Pete. Anyway.. won't complain. You gave this album what it deserved!

    Craig Kenny craigkenny@ntlworld.com
    You have exactly nailed the excitement that many people - me not least - feel about this band and this record. A lot of reviewers put them down; perhaps they are so used to being told what to think - who's 'indie' and what's 'lo fi' etc, that they no longer trust their own ears. A lot of lame comparisons get made - the Strokes!? - which miss the point. The Libertines only make you think of other great music, - the Beatles, the Clash, etc - because this IS great music, full of melody, warmth, poetry humour, honesty. If you want another useless comparison, how about the Pogues, just for the sheer joy of the playing and the unforgettable songs? OK, there is nothing on this album quite as breathtaking as Up the Bracket (the track) or Time for Heroes, but its far more cohesive than the first album, the way the tracks knit together. The transition from THe Man Who Would Be King to Music When the Lights Go Out is a case in point. This music will still be with us in 20 yea! rs time, along with perhaps The Streets, long after the Darkness, Scissor Sisters et al have been forgotten. I've also had it up to here with all the tabloid hysteria about Pete and his drugs, like he's the first musician ever to have a habit. The man's just being honest. The only relevence for me is that his problem may have hastened the split of this wonderful group (as this album testifies in great detail). Bigger than the fear that the Libertines will never record together again, for me, is the fear that they will make an ordinary record. But as long as Pete Doherty is involved I can't see that happening, everything he records is just so extraordinary.

    Christopher cmgburns@hotmail.com
    You are right in pointing out 'Music When The Lights Go Out' in relation to their current position. However what seems most amazing about this song is that it was originally recorded on the demo 'Legs 11' about three years ago, yet seems more relavant now than it ever would have then.

    this page last updated 14/10/08

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