>It was my birthday the other day, and when you grow up, you become increasingly less bothered by what others think of you. For proof of this, casually ask your grandparents for their views on immigration. I think I’ve reached an age where honesty about various musical preferences become easier. So here goes. Deep breath.
ABBA are… OK. Actually, no, not just OK – songs like Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) have melodies that worm into your brain so deep that they’ll never leave without a Spandex-clad fight; melodies every other band would sell their grandmothers for. ABBA‘s best songs – and there aren’t that many, honestly, but Waterloo is one of them – are songs that could punch you between the eyes with the sheer force of their choruses.
It’s not all fun, of course. Looking now, with our cynical eyes, at the sheer, gleeful awfulness of their clothing – which may or may not have bankrolled the world’s satin jumpsuit industry – we can see that ABBA have not only been sullied by their own hand, but also by 70’s theme bars, lazy nightclub DJs and local radio stations, whose reliance on their hits borders on the criminally insane. And a lot of their ‘most loved’ songs, like Dancing Queen, have been bashed viciously into the ‘Horrible Disco Nonsense’ category by one too many Hen party.
Still, any band aspiring to success could do a lot worse than to take ABBA as a starting point. If Today’s New Band crowd around their Dansette in the evenings and listen to Voulez-Vous, they’ve hidden it well, because Joe Gideon and The Shark are crashing, guttural and bloody in the exact way that ABBA aren’t.
As brother and sister, they are a rare commodity in rock. Whereas in the pop world, sibling relationships are a lot less unusual, here, the music jars hard against their shared blood, and is all the bettor for it.
DOL creeps up on you, chanting menacingly, drawing you into its uneasy world with hypnotic repetition. It’s no simple blues-lite knock-off though, revealing itself to be an urgent, suspicious, love-song/warning. Civilisation tells the tale of “learning the ways of man”, a young man’s journey of discovery, told with the hormonal sneer of youth, and the tale takes the twists of success, failure and griminess that most young men’s lives take.
Grinding, raw, direct and shorn of rock pleasantries, Joe Gideon and the Shark are a fantastic grubby stab of clunky rock. Listen here!