Full review from edition 4.

The Betrayal of Mangas Coleradas

The Hightown Crows

CD review by Mutton Jeff.

Echoing from the stone walls of a barn somewhere in Purbeck next summer will be the sound of the dusty west-country: stone-kicking, thigh-slapping, hip-twisting chicken-shack, punk-a-billy, Cajun rock.

There are a lot of familiar old names in this band. The irascible Hinton Admiral, bottleneck-slider of the old school, takes the lead on vocals and guitar. “This is the soundtrack to the much-anticipated Hightown Crows Western that will never be made”, he says, enigmatically. It all becomes clear from the first plaint of the harmonica (makes you cry), the pounding steam engine (makes you dance), the honky-tonk saloon (makes you dance) or the gallows (… they all make you dance, OK?). The Betrayal of Mangas Coleradus takes us on a cinematic-style journey where a jangling guitar tells the story.

The last track, The Head of Mangus Coleradus, would grace a Sergio Leone finale despite a lack of ‘hoo-ha’s and searing trumpets. And while Back to The Stone Age doesn’t appear to have a connection with the narrative, as a punk classic it can do what it likes, raw as mammoth meat under melting ice caps. Back to the wild West Country, the sensitive harmonica of Canford Cliffs brings tears to the eye of the hardest hombres: just listen to Pass Me By, Cliffs’ winding tones wrapping themselves like a cloak of pity around a sorry story of love gone sour. And if you think people who write songs in protest about the war in Afghanistan are unpatriotic, dangerous left-wing propagandists, you should buy this CD – and burn it; Afghan Blues might well become a cult hit.

Rufus Stone is best known for his collaboration with fellow Crow-member and percussionist, Emery Down, in their other band, Dead Plants. With all ten digits trigger-fingers, Stone not only plays the meanest walking bass in the West Country, he’s deadly accurate with it. Down drives his ramshackle drum kit like a stage coach, all horse-step rhythms and occasional shouting.

These guys don’t just play steam punk – they live it.

A sensational band to see live; visit www.hightowncrows.co.uk, for gigs and order your CD by Pony Express delivery.