The Cops

Get Good or Stay Bad

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Listening to the first full-length album from Seattle punk rockers the Cops, you get the feeling that hearing the first Clash album changed Michael Jaworski's life forever, and while that isn't an especially uncommon phenomenon, not many folks have tried quite so hard to sound like Joe Strummer as Jaworski. Admittedly, the natural timbre of Jaworski's raw, passionate bark bears a certain resemblance to the late Clash frontman's voice, but the similarity in their phrasing suggests this is more than a mere coincidence of nature, and it certainly fits in with the band's sound, which suggests the martial punch of old-school British punk at its most fiercely political. (The fact the album closes out with a Wire cover hardly dissuades one from observing this as a reference point.) Musically, the Cops are hardly breaking new ground on Get Good or Stay Bad, but they have learned their lessons well, delivering tight and muscular music, with slashing guitar leads from John Randolph and a righteous pounding from bassist Brian Wall and drummer David Weeks. But the rabble-rousing lyrics on tunes "We Are the Occupants," "T.V. Lieyes," and "Negative Cutting" have a certain cookie-cutter "down with the Man" quality that listeners have all heard before, and for all their ferocity there are moments when the Cops sound like they're verging on parody. Get Good or Stay Bad is the work of a band with real potential, but the Cops need to develop a more original vision if they're really going to go anywhere.

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