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Filthy Tongues - Jacob's Ladder

  by John Clarkson

published: 10 / 4 / 2016



Filthy Tongues - Jacob's Ladder
Label: Neon Tetra
Format: CD

intro

Thought-provoking debut album from former Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish members the Filthy Tongues, which examines the darker side of Edinburgh


'Jacob's Ladder' takes its name from an uneven set of steps that runs downwards from Edinburgh's Regent Road to Calton Road. Regent Road is one of Edinburgh's more illustrious streets. It was proposed for many years to base the Scottish Parliament there, and it affords one of the more spectacular views of Edinburgh and nearby Arthur Seat. A short walk up the other side of the road and up Calton Hill, and the views are even more panoramic still, embracing the whole city. Calton Road is, however, more down-at-heel. Situated in the bowels of the city, it is a lonely, shadowy street at night, the site of drug deals and occasional muggings and in 1988 when the three members of the Filthy Tongues' previous band Goodbye Mr Mackenzie was at its height one of Edinburgh's more infamous murders, when in an incident of "queer bashing", a man was thrown thirty feet to his death over the wall of nearby New Calton Cemetery into Calton Road below. Vocalist and guitarist Martin Metcalfe, bassist Fin Wilson and drummer Derek Kelly have played in various Edinburgh alternative rock bands together for over thirty-five years. As well as Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish (the first bands of Garbage's Shirley Manson), they were for several years in the under-rated Isa & the Filthy Tongues, before the Filthy Tongues branched out of it when singer Stacey Chavis ('Isa') decided to take an extended hiatus. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, the band’s debut under the moniker of the Filthy Tongues, is an “Edinburgh album”. It uses the Regent/Calton Road steps as a symbol, acknowledging Edinburgh’s on-the-surface beauty, but focusing predominantly on its other side and darker underbelly, a world which the Filthy Tongues know well, because as the Mackenzies several of their members fought addictions. “Up Jacob’s Ladder I saw a little tryst/There was one man having another as a feast,” sings Metcalfe as the first line of the opening title track, setting out the bleak tone of the album. Essentially a brief history of Scotland’s Capital, it notes both the Grassmarket where for centuries hangings took place (“They were looking for a long neck to swim”), and “the whores, the junkies and the pissed” who “in a sea of whisky and speed they did swim”. “It’s been like this for 400 years,” Metcalfe declaims in its chorus, sounding like an Old Testament preacher and imagining standing at the summit of Calton Hill, before adding mockingly, “Hallelujah from the top of the hill/I can see Jerusalem from the top of the hill.” The music throughout is dark, intense, titanic and furious in sound, none more so than on recent single, ‘Long Time Dead’, which tells of the stories of a group of no-hope addicts. (“(Danny) lost his leg injecting but he had a lot of fun/He spent a fortune on the first and now he’s working on the other one.”). The Filthy Tongues save, however, any real wrath for those in high places, the City’s political figures and other corrupt powers-that-be who carry out their vices behind closed doors. “There’s dirty laundry everywhere that they will never show,” laments Metcalfe on ‘Children of the Filthy’. On the eerie, apocalyptic closer ‘Kingdom of Ice’ he meanwhile conjures up a world that has fallen into total damnation and ruin. As thought-provoking as it is challenging, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is first-rate, capturing Edinburgh in its magnificence, but also more importantly the darkness that surges beneath its surface. It is a fine record from one of Scotland’s best bands.



Track Listing:-
1 Jacob's Ladder
2 High
3 Holy Brothers
4 Violent Sorrow
5 Bowhead Saint
6 Long Time Dead
7 Children Of The Filthy
8 Kingdom Of Ice


Band Links:-
http://www.isaandthefilthytongues.com/
https://twitter.com/filthytongues
https://www.facebook.com/Isa-the-Filthy-Tongues-144934250476/



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interviews


Interview (2016)
Filthy Tongues - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Derek Kelly, the drummer with Edinburgh-based alternative rock trio the Filthy Tongues, about 'Jacob's Ladder', their debut album, which examines the hidden under surface of their native city

live reviews


African Caribbean Centre, Glasgow, 1/11/2014
Filthy Tongues - African Caribbean Centre, Glasgow, 1/11/2014
Tony Gaughan watches the Filthy Tongues, in their first show in nearly three years, play several of their classic Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish hits in a brilliant show at the African Caribbean Centre in Glasgow


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Filthy Tongues: Interview (2016
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John Clarkson speaks to Derek Kelly, the drummer with Edinburgh-based alternative rock trio the Filthy Tongues, about 'Jacob's Ladder', their debut album, which examines the hidden under surface of their native city







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