The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth
published: 9 /
In our 'Re:View' section, in which our writers examine albums from the past, Tommy Gunnarsson reviews Iionic British Marxist indiepop band McCarthy’s 1989 second album, ‘The Enraged Will Inherit The Earth’, which is being reissued in an expanded vinyl edition.
For regular readers of Pennyblackmusic, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that I'm once again writing about McCarthy. But I have a very good reason for it: the lovely Optic Nerve Recordings have put out an equally lovely reissue of the band's second album, 'The Enraged Will Inherit The Earth', initially released on Midnight Music back in 1989.
Compared to McCarthy's debut album, the absolutely stunning 'I Am A Wallet' (released on the September label in 1987), this second effort lacks the crisp production of its predecessor and saw the band fully embrace drum machines.
The band had already begun experimenting with drum machines and keyboards on b-sides to the singles 'This Nelson Rockefeller' and 'Should The Bible Be Banned?'. For many indie purists, this was a huge betrayal.
When I spoke to guitarist Tim Gane (who went on to co-found Stereolab) years ago, he felt that this album was his least favourite of the three McCarthy albums. This us an opinion singer Malcolm Eden also shared when I interviewed him almost 20 years ago – not because of the songs, but the production.
Their new label at the time, Midnight Music, had their own studio. The band could spend as much time in there as they liked, but they didn't really know what they were doing.
Despite the production flaws, there are some fantastic songs on the album, such as the music business bashing 'Boy Meets Girl So What'. 'Keep An Open Mind Or Else' and 'Governing Takes Brains' are others. Malcolm Eden's lyrics are as brilliant as ever, oozing with political issues and razor-sharp wit.
So, what about the reissue? Optic Nerve has done a marvellous job as ever. The original 10-song album has been expanded with an additional 10 track LP, containing songs taken from the two aforementioned singles, and the 'McCarthy At War' EP (1989). The 'Keep An Open Mind Or Else' single, which also came out in 1989, rounds out the collection.
The real treat here is the bonus 7", which consists of two previously unreleased songs: 'Who Will Rid Me Of These Turbulent Proles?' and 'You Had To Go And Open Your Big Mouth'. The sleeve has been reworked by artist Andy Royston, who did the original sleeve design more than 30 years ago. He has done a great job, especially with the sleeve for the bonus single, with its obvious influences from Soviet communist propaganda posters. It easily could have been a cover design for a McCarthy single in the late 80s.
When I interviewed Malcolm back in 2001, he mentioned both of these unreleased songs as the only two McCarthy songs that hadn't been released yet. They considered including them on the 'That's All Very Well But…' compilation that Cherry Red put out in 1996, but the songs weren't deemed good enough by the band.
"I was really pleased with ['Who Will Rid Me Of These Turbulent Proles?']. It was one of my best lyrics. It's recorded but not mixed, unfortunately, so it's a bit rough. The other was a joke disco song that Tim did...Laetitia (Sadier, who formed Stereolab with Tim, and who was a member of McCarthy during their last year or so) sings a few lines on it. We had very long titles towards the end. It's in a fairly rough condition too."
'Who Will Rid Me Of These Turbulent Proles?' is a classic McCarthy rocker, and is more reminiscent of the sound on their third and final album, 'Banking, Violence And The Inner Life Today' (which was re-released by Optic Nerve back in 2013). Indeed, the song was recorded during those sessions, while 'You Had To Go And Open Your Big Mouth' really doesn't sound like anything else in the McCarthy catalogue, with its Nile Rodgers-style guitars. The sound quality here is also a bit weaker than on the other tracks on both the album and the single, so it's more apparent that this is a demo recording that wasn't meant to be released in the first place.
This is yet another splendid Optic Nerve release – don't put too much weight on my thoughts on the production. This is an excellent album by one of the best bands ever, and if you like your indie pop (or pop in general) political, it's a must-have. If you like your indie pop – well – great, it's also an essential purchase.
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