Worcester punks The Samples first started pogoing in 1978 and toured until the mid-80s. Although, these punk originators never officially clocked-off, it is a tribute to their tenacity and energy that their album, Maybe Tomorrow, has been recorded & released. The Samples, are more than a tribute act!
The live album opens with a sincere tribute to their “friend, singer, our front man, our lyricist” – Sean “Badger” Taylor – who sadly passed away. Fittingly, the album was recorded over several dates (Oct 2021 & Sept 2022) at the renowned Marrs bar, and the album is a tribute to a local institution. The Samples wear their hearts on their un-ironed T-shirt sleeves…
Much like the Angelic Upstarts – there is more than a passing influence contained on this album.
Just like the Upstarts our punk veterans do not shy away from political statements and the opening track Government Downfall is a comment on the “lies” of presiding Governments. The simmering anger is not of angry young men but of “dyed in the woke” left wingers who have witnessed too much wool being pulled over “society’s eyes”. Rather worryingly the single was written in 1980.
As a tribute to Malvern’s Punk Rockers The Tights, a version of Bad Hearts is included and the track is delivered with the trademark conviction that The Samples bring to their live sets. The controlled fury contained on this Cd reflects The Samples philosophy – say it loud and say it proud!
The philosophical Dead Hero is the sobering truth of the outcome of war. The reflective opening guitar notes give way to the deep bass notes and the triumphant drumming lead the charge over the hill…the end result is dead heroes. Not for The Samples the fevered warmongering of the right.
The vocal delivery – terrace baritone – of Paz Smith (bass) the singer is akin to the voice of Mensi of the Angelics. Throughout the album Dave Evans guitar playing shifts effortlessly from chugging, metallic riffs to concise, spiky solos that enhance the songs – like metal studs adorning a biker jacket. The factory-line, precision drumming from both Johnny P and Jake Powell glue the tracks together like phlegm sticking to poorly-dyed hair.
The relentless Fight for your Life is a lister engine of a punk anthem. Vendetta deals with the punk’s perennial suspicion of the “boys in blue.” Another Dawn highlights the reality of the refugee’s plight.
A sampler of the band’s refusal to take themselves too seriously is acknowledged in the choice of covers. I Shot The Sheriff is given the Samples industrial treatment and the result is a punchy, reggae-esque party. The mellifluous (sic) version of Understanding Jane has been nabbed for obvious reasons and the sense of what was, coruscates through the track.
Moreover, you can’t help but detect the real loss for the band. As the album is a tribute, homage and more than a nod to Sean Taylor or “Badger” as he was known…this fact is black and white.
The Upstarts were political firebrands, guaranteed to end any village-hall disco if their singles were played. I would like to think this album could instigate one or two upturned tables and chairs as a fitting tribute – for a band that walk it like they talk it!
Indeed: “Go Dave, go!”
Head over to their Bandcamp page for all vinyl/digital/CD options.
By: The Swilgate Scuttler