Ruts DC: ElectrAcoustiC (Sosumi)
Veteran survivors capture their semi-acoustic set on disc. Dignified and Old, as Jonathan Richman once sang, Ruts DC don’t pretend to be angry, young men and sound all the better for it, says Ged Babey.
Just mentioning The Ruts name brings a wave of nostalgia and a tear to the eye of many of my generation (those who were too young for the start of punk). They were a great band. Arguably the best of Punks second Generation.
Ruts DC since reforming have played some emotional gigs and released some brilliant albums. Then came the Music Must Destroy set. They seemed to drop the all-important reggae element and it divided fans. Those of us who didn’t like it felt a pang of guilt, being disloyal to a band who inspire devotion. They suffered so much and are such likeable, decent geezers… but releasing a naff album just makes them even more ‘human’ and fallible I guess.
Consequently, I approached this, semi-unplugged album with some trepidation…. Five classic Ruts songs and five from Music Must Destroy and one older Ruts DC song, Dangerous Minds (from Animal Now)
If you’ve seen them perform this kind of set at Rebellion or other gigs then you’ll know what to expect. More relaxed, lighter versions where the tunefulness is elevated over the full pelt rush of the electric show.
Overall it works really well as an enjoyable, portable Ruts DC gig on disc. The versions of In A Rut, West One and Something That I Said are great because it’s impossible for the band to perform a ‘bad’ version. These songs are just so indestructible and so perfect, so much a part of the band and fans DNA, they just can’t get them wrong.
What surprised me is that the newer songs actually sound better in the semi-acoustic format. Music Must Destroy still sounds musically more like something Kirk Brandon and Spear of Destiny would write, with its air-punching campfire stomp.
Rockabilly shuffle Walk Or Run (with a great lead vocal by David Ruffy) is fun and infectious. Soft City Lights have a vibe like Invisible Sun by the Police and sounds nothing like the Ruts of old – but gets under you skin after a few plays.
(video below is the Electric Version from Music Must Destroy and NOT the new Acoustic one from this album )
Kill The Pain – is still a lyric which baffles me – ‘Give me something to Kill the Pain’ may well refer to alcohol or weed, but because of Malcolm Owens history with the most effective but ultimately deadly painkiller, I can’t hear it without thinking of smack. The line about ‘another young punk with a new solution’ i also find depressing as he ‘joins our worn-out revolution’. Ironically a lot of people seem to love the song, for it’s immediacy and singalong qualities which make it suitably Ruts-y.
Dangerous Minds is a standout track with it’s great guitar-picking and hushed vocal.
The strong backbone of the album is still those classic Ruts singles. Songs you have probably listened to a thousand times but are still as life-affirming and powerful as ever. Ruts DC don’t rest on their laurels though. They continue to move forward, even if it tests the loyalty of some us fans and I’m glad they do. After all, they don’t wanna get stuck in a rut … (I’ll get me coat…)
Buy from here
1 Music Must Destroy
2 Dangerous Minds
3 Kill The Pain
4 In A Rut
5 West One
6 Something That I Said
7 Psychic Attack
8 Walk Or Run
9 Soft City Lights
11 Babylons Burning
All words Ged Babey