the project brings together for the first time ever the long-running Los Angeles punks and the London-based singer and ex-Million Dead frontman, for many years now both friends and fans of each other’s music. With supporting live shows also shortly to be announced, the 10 strong track-listing of ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ captures NOFX tackling five selections from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue, with Frank reciprocating with recordings of five of his personal favourites picked from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career.
Both artists have sizable followings it would be hard to predict who’d still be standing if they were to slug it out. To be fair maybe Fat Mike wouldn’t get past the drug test but he’d probably hide a horseshoe in his glove anyway but the walk-in music is sorted as they could both play one of these tracks. Now to be fair I have to say I’ve seen Frank live a few times and although I enjoyed what I heard and I also have some of his records I’ve never been drawn in and become a fully-fledged fanboy but I do love ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and although NOFX do a sterling job its way below the original even if they’ve taken it somewhere dark and pulled its pants down and spanked it with a ska trombone and I’m good with that. And The same has to be said of NOFX I’ve seen them a few times and own the records but no fanboy and would it rude to say the best or rather my favourite release was the split they did with Rancid! (Flame me now NOFX fanboys) Not ‘Punked in Drublic’ and I do like Fat Mikes alter ego Cokie The Clown a lot. Anyway, I digress.
First half lets introduce tracks one to five and in the USA corner its NOFX and five Frank Turner tracks that manage to have their melons twisted (quite considerably at times) yet they still maintain the vital “Frank” ingredient which isn’t easy and they treat the songs rather well before devouring them NOFX style. ‘Substitute’ is skanked and the harmonies are great and when it breaks out it sounds fantastic. Angry love songs always work.
‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ is no longer the picked melancholy its a slobbering beast that builds really well and Fat Mike and co have really worked on these and I’m impressed, no I’m really impressed. MAn these guys should do a collaboration and be done with it they are in tune – seriously. ‘Thatcher’ gets the ska skank treatment and to be fair it really works I’d never have called it as the keys dance and that horn bows almost as much as Thatcher did. Let’s not forget either kids, these lyrics are so spot on and what’s more depressing when it was written Frank never could have predicted Cameron and his austerity and then May before Boris well and truly fucked everyone not just the kids. Respect.
‘The Ballad Of Me & My Friends’ isn’t a folky sing-along its a blast through NOFX style. They get Turner in for a rip through ‘Glory Hallelujah’ like they’re Queen writing a musical for the west end big bold and quite beautiful. You have to take your hat off to Fat Mike hes reconstructed five of turners songs and given them a NOFX makeover and most enjoyable they are too.
In The ‘Wessex’ Corner is the very English Frank Turner and his band the Sleeping Souls and to be fair they’ve also entered into the spirit of things and taken five NOFX tunes and given them a “this side of the pond” English make over.
It is indeed the ying to Fat Mikes yang as ‘Scavenger Type’ get the punked-up acoustic style treatment as the ‘Punked In Drublic’ gets a good shoeing. I guess ‘Bob’ was a free hit for Turner but he takes ownership and if I was to pick a knockout blow on this release then this might well be it. Sublime, to be fair a great song handled with much love and respect.
‘Eat The Meek’ is taken somewhere totally different and reinvented and to be fair I didn’t see that coming either. That’s the pattern though and like ‘Perfect Government’ is another uppercut from Turner who winning this on points. Finally bowing out with his rendition of ‘Falling In Love’ this caps off a pretty impressive split. Exactly how it should be done and much respect to Frank Turner and NOFX who manage to knock each other out at the same time Rocky style. Give it a try then go check out the originals and then give them both a round of applause for their bravery, talent and execution.
Let’s hope for a rematch somewhere down the line or how about a full-on collaboration ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ has been an emotional box office success. Get on this pay per view kids its a big hitter for sure.
Buy ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ Here
Author: Dom Daley