Having just completed a run of US shows with Rancid, along with the recording of his first album as guitarist with The Last Resort punkaholic Lars Frederiksen has somehow managed to squeeze a few more hours into his rock ‘n’ roll day to finally deliver his debut solo release, the six track EP ‘To Victory’.

Inspired by a pre-lockdown sold out solo show in Oakland, ‘To Victory’ is a continuation of that show’s format and as such is very much in the style of one of Frederiksen’s heroes, Billy Bragg. It’s a one-man-gang kind of release, with the track listing featuring two songs each from The Old Firm Casuals and Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards all reworked to fit the stripped-down solo format along with a couple of choice cover versions making for a very interesting listen indeed.

It’s back to 2016’s ‘Butcher’s Banquet’ EP originally recorded by The Old Firm Casuals for ‘God And Guns’ to get the acoustic party started and here devoid of any drums the track still somehow pounds along at a fair old pace, and yeah whilst I may long for a drummer to help the track fully kick in, the piano and bass touches that complement the arrangement really do work well within the context of this project.

Likewise, ‘Army of Zombies’ originally from Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards self-titled 2001 released album, which also works particularly well due to a truly magical sprinkling of organ and piano which lifts the track out of merely sounding like a very well recorded acoustic demo up into a whole new sonic universe come the chorus.

Of the two cover versions on offer Lars’ version of UK Subs ‘Tomorrow’s Girl’ is the one that makes absolute sense (seeing as Lars was briefly in the band back in the early nineties) and here for the first time on the EP the song is driven by Lars’ trusty Gibson SG. Something that continues into the monster chug of ‘Motherland’, originally from The Old Firm Casual’s 2019 released ‘Holger Danske’ album. Now, I’ve always thought Frederiksen had more than a hint of Paul Stanley in his voice on the chorus of the original of this track and here it’s even more evident. Surely Lars would never admit to being a KISS fan though, right?

Err wrong, because the second of the covers is actually a mighty fine rendition of ‘Comin’ Home’ originally from that band’s 1974 classic ‘Hotter Than Hell’ album, albeit here it’s got more in common with the version the shock rockers did for their 1995 MTV Unplugged show. It’s certainly the bravest of song choices on ‘To Victory’ and may even win Lars some new fans in the process.

Returning to the electric guitar for an EP closing run through of Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards’ ‘Skunx’, I can’t help but think that having recorded a beefed-up cover of Billy Bragg’s ‘To Have And Have Not’ on their self-titled debut album this version of ‘Skunx’ could actually be Bragg’s payback cover if he were ever up to the challenge.

Released via Pirates Press on 19th November on vinyl, CD, cassette and online ‘To Victory’ is something that seriously has the legs to run as a whole new concept for Lars Frederiksen outside of that solo pre-lockdown gig that started all of this, just him, his guitar and a whole lot of stories certainly makes for an interesting proposition indeed.




Author: Johnny Hayward