Ruben Vine is a Sussex based artist who writes and performs most of the material on what appears to be his third independently released album, currently available for free download at his website www.rubenvine.com.
Vine lists Crass and Bad Brains amongst his influences and “Slave Manifesto” is very much a protest album in the mould of those politically minded rock bands, the type of which we seldom see any more.
Vine often comes across as ‘Furious of Brighton’ railing against all the usual suspects, bankers, big business, the government and the narrow minded who allow the status quo.
“Slave Manifesto” kicks off with a great dirty blues guitar on ‘Slaves’, but we immediately hit a problem. Vine’s voice is an acquired taste – it’s one of those punk style anti-voices, slightly flat and with a whining quality that I find unpalatable. The other problem is that Vine’s manifesto is laid out in a rather uninspiring way. Protest music can be thrilling but songs like the banker-bashing ‘Slaves’ are lacking the poetry or wit of Ry Cooder’s ‘No Banker Left Behind’ or The National’s ‘Sin Eaters’.
A lot of the material sounds like the music to a student revue tackling the ill’s of society. Occasionally, however, this air of theatricality works, such as on ‘The Finger’ which reminds me of the songs The Tiger Lillies produced for ‘Shock Headed Peter’, a kind of gothic high camp nursery rhyme.
‘Karma Killer’s’ and ‘Chemical Cuddles’ are the best of more straight ahead rock numbers, but could do with a bit of a dirtier and punchier production.
I admire Vine’s work ethic, his singular vision and his righteous anger, I just don’t particularly like this record.