The other day Phil Campbell tweeted about the customer service he’d received from Tesla. “We love rock n roll” they’d told him.
Ironic, really because this live album probably cost me three points on my license on Saturday. I was on that “smart motorway” bollocks on the M6 just outside Birmingham on my way to watch the worst game of football in many a year, and he and The Bastard Sons had just got to “Born To Raise Hell” and I was joining in to the extent that I didn’t notice it’d gone down to 50mph from 60mph (probably in order to give that Tory prick of a mayor Andy Street more money). Hardly living on the wild side, but I am in my late 40s and drive a Renault, you take what you can get.
There’s a couple of things there. First, this is the first ever PCABS live album, second, in addition to their own stuff (which is superb) there’s a liberal sprinkling of Motorhead too. And that’s never, ever going to be a problem.
“Live In The North” was recorded in Sunderland on the tour they did when gigs resumed in 2021. New singer Joel Peters fronting the band. I was lucky enough to see it in the second city. In my review of the night, I’d written: “after spending 30 years in an institution, [Campbell has] given his name to perhaps the best denim clad outfit out there. Watch them for 75 minutes and come to any other conclusion.”
I stand by every word of that, because this hour long thing is a window into their set, both the fun, the skill and also the mighty songs.
It opens with “We’re The Bastards”, their anthem. They are. And they are really, really good. New single “Bite My Tongue” casts a critical eye on this decade and concludes there’s not much you can do with stupidity, except “Rock Out”, I guess. That’s the first Motorhead tune and it takes you back to every Autumn, when we’d go and worship. They were shows like no other and credit to PCATBS for keeping the flame alive in such a fashion, while writing their own songs that don’t copy them much at at all.
Indeed, if this live album does one thing, then let it recognise just how good these cuts are. The Orange Goblin flavoured “Spiders” for one, “High Rule” for another. It reasons we live in an “age of absurdity”. It’s got worse since this was written too.
Another from their 2018 record, “Ringleader” has more of a flavour of the job Phil Campbell used to do, but its interesting to hear them sung by Peters. He’d stood out as a member of Bootyard Bandits and he’s relishing the chance to front this band.
They’ve got a groove, have the Bastard Sons. “Dark Days” is full of it, and if “Big Mouth” swaps that for pure, visceral energy, then either suits them.
It also helps that you’ve got a clutch of legendary songs to play, but that neglects to mention “These Old Boots” from Campbell snr’s solo record. A standout even here, but lets be honest here. There’s “Ace Of Spades”, there’s “Going To Brazil” and there’s “Killed By Death” to finish. I am probably not the only person in this world to have it as a top ten song of all time, but we are where we are and its still genius. And it still makes me think of Lemmy every single time. Of course too, this was a tour tinged with tragedy and “….Hell” is poignantly dedicated to Tom from Wolfjaw, who were originally slated to support before he tragically died.
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons have rock n roll in their DNA, of course they do, but they are a quite marvellous band in their own right. “Live In The North” underlines that for anyone still unaware.
Now, if I have to pay £60 for the speed awareness course, can I send you my details, lads?