Handful of Earth

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Jessie's third single rolls out as another emotional punk juggernaut. By now we should expect nothing less from ex-Leatherface singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer Frankie Stubbs (and bassist Leighton and drummer Spud), but with each new 7" arriving in a simple, cheap, Xeroxed black-and-white cover, it becomes clear that this Sunderland, Northern England trio can honestly hold its own with both the frankly awesome Leatherface and Stubbs' later band Pope (though, like Pope, the vinyl sound quality is a little more submerged than the absolute roar Leatherface's patented from their third album, 1992's Mush, through their fifth LP, 1995's The Last). Stubbs' gravel voice shoots right out of his bleeding heart up through his throat as always, but his unbelievable passion and feeling is at its best here, backed inevitably by another overloading chorus of guitars, beat, volume, and jet-plane lift. Fantastic. Perhaps the mid-tempo punk-esque material is a little run-of-the-mill for Stubbs -- there's no Ruts reggae-tinged experimentation, as found on Leatherface's greatest moment, The Last's single "Little White God," or post-punkish playing around with rhythms -- such as found elsewhere on that album -- but this rave-up thriller is too good to miss. The B-side is a wasted recording: Like the flip of the first Jessie single, "Rant," it's evident that little thought went into this, and such a shabby tune is horribly outclassed by "Handful of Earth." But so what? Play the A-side over and over until your needle bends.