Newtown Neurotics

Beggers Can Be Choosers

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This courageous trio from Harlow, Essex, has a great lesson to teach groups: how to infuse a striking mixture of sociopolitical awareness, brains, and down-to-earth, super-intelligent heart (on the sleeve, big time) into modern music. This is post-punk rock & roll with fun, energized appeal, with well-played ensemble work and a string of zippy, kinetic chord changes. One can dance, think, feel, and most of all be inspired to action by listening to such music, and leader Steve Drewett was one of the unsung giants of early-'80s indie Britain. Long before the amateurish riot-grrrl movement, big guy Drewett attacked sexism, gender roles, and domestic violence (from "No Respect": "No man is a 'whore' he invented the name/No man is a 'slut' he feels no shame." From "Agony": "When was the last time you saw a man cry on TV?"). Elsewhere, the remake of the Members' great 1978 single "Solitary Confinement" with Drewett's new words as "Living With Unemployment" might be the high watermark for '80s socialist-tinged, slice-of-life protest songs; it's heartfelt and real. And the competent punk-reggae of "Newtown People" is a scathing condemnation of their little town's bland, suffocating myopia. Albums like this make listeners proud instead of sickened to be a rock fan. [There are only 1,250 copies pressed of the Dojo reissue of the Neurotics' first LP, originally issued by Razor U.K. in 1983. But 1,250 is better than nothing.]

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