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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Foreign Legion: The Light at the end of the Tunnel - ALBUM REVIEW

It's an incredible story - Welsh Punk band, Foreign Legion have been around now for decades and are a much respected part of the independent music scene - as a collective unit the band first drew breath in 1984 and have remained fiercely independent ever since - not for them the interference of a major label....They have their own vision and they stick to it. That's something that deserves  respect.

They continue to gig regularly and over the years have built up an impressive fan base, as well as the odd stalker or two. Vocalist, Marcus Howells told me of one particular fan who inspired the track, Stalker on the Light at the end of the Tunnel album -

'When you've got a bird phoning you a hundred times a day, throwing stones at your window, following you everywhere. Nutcase.'
Marcus Howells - stalkers beware

Stalker, stalker.
She's stalking me.

Over the years the band have gigged around the world, and have shared the stage with some legendary names - Stiff Little Fingers, The Ruts, GBH, Cockney Rejects. They are the only Welsh band to play the legendary CBGB in New York and have given storming shows at many festivals including the likes of Back On The Streets, Punk & Disorderly and the Rebellion Festival. They are also no strangers to the legendary 100 Club, and have torn up the venue many times.

Foreign Legion were formed in 1984 out of the ashes of several other punk projects, and are very much a product of both their environment and times. Hailing from Merthyr in the South Wales Valleys the young band were there; witnesses to the great industrial battles of the 80's - the miners' strike of 1984 obviously colours their world view and it's a view that this writer very much agrees with. I come from the Rhondda Valleys which is now part of the same unitary boundaries as Merthyr and like the band's valleys my own has been forgotten and ignored by politicians. Those same politicians who took all of the wealth out of the valleys - these days the valleys are run down but the people remain strong, defiant and angry...there is, it seems, a light at the end of the tunnel.

'Valleys had no future Maggie no jobs run down etc but the people keep going heads up not down.'
Foreign Legion...fucking angry
Marcus Howells

 The lyrics are typically political and angry...boy, are they angry. But then how could not be? Foreign Legion are the real deal - there's no false posturing here. They mean every word they say, and they are all the better for it.

The album opens with a storming guitar driven track - Jenny. It's a great place to start, a catchy anthem-type song which is followed up by, What A Place to Be. There's a lot of melody amongst the power chords and expertly delivered vocals. Then we have, what is a stand out track for me - the excellent Regenerations (Council List) sticks it to the man in a way that had me punching the air in delight. This song is followed by My Radio which features a stunning bass introduction. This powerful first side ends with Hey Girl followed by George Best. The latter track reminded me of early Clash and I mean that as a compliment.

Onto side 2 - turn over that neat looking green vinyl with the red splatter effect. We're into the aforementioned, Stalker which is a throwaway track but one with substance and a driving beat. Maybe more poppy than anything else on the album, but it's power pop along the lines of Green Day and Blink 182. Next up is Market Trader, which is again a stand out track and speaks of the decline of UK towns. The bass hook on this track is absolutely addictive. Three Years follows and this is an uncompromising track that attacks paedophiles and the light sentences handed down by the law. It's an uncomforable track to listen to but then given the subject matter maybe that's the point. Miners follows - subtitled, The Father's Sacrifice the song plays tribute to the working men who shaped the valleys. Next up is Drunken Heroes - a punk anthem that once again displays the fact that the band are the real thing. The album ends with, Pheonix From The Flame and the song is a statement of intent that firmly places the band as spokesmen for a lost generation.

Light at the end of the Tunnel then is a brilliant album that deserves your support - if you like Indie music then go to the band's Facebook page where you will find links to purchase their music and keep the music alive -

I'd also recommend the latest album from the band, Always Working indie music, together we are legion.


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