The nineties were a great period for British rock. On the back of the success of the likes of Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses, rock music started to get some serious airtime on TV and radio, and subsequently there was a new generation of British and Irish bands that got a lot of publicity and they began hitting the higher echelons of the charts pretty regularly, something that seems a world away from the musical situation we find ourselves in now. Whilst bands such as Therapy?, The Wildhearts and Terrorvision clocked up a load of Top Of The Pops appearances, there was a whole range of bands just bubbling underneath the surface, getting some coverage, but not quite breaking through to the same extent.
One of these bands was Kilkenny’s Kerbdog. Lead by frontman Cormac Battle, the band mixed a punk attitude, threw in some heavy riffs and a healthy dose of pop melody in a similar way to Therapy?, but without the cynical moody attitude that the Northern Irish trio were pushing at the time. The band recently reformed after a few years in the wilderness as they each took their own path (Battle even worked on a Eurovision song for Ireland) before getting back together in 2012. They have been working on a new album via the Pledge music model that has worked very well for some of their peers, but until that comes they have released “Congregation,” a seventeen track live album to whet the appetite and give a taste of what we had been missing.
Despite only recording two full length albums, ‘Congregation’ proves how good they were as writers, when the majority of these tracks could have been released as singles. As it is we are treated to the band at their anthemic best, with electric versions of ‘Sally’ ‘On The Turn’ and ‘Mexican Wave’. Live albums may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this shows that the band have definitely not lost any of their edge and are still as tight as ever, on the evidence of the three shows used for this recording. Sixteen album tracks and one reworked demo track in the form of ‘Electricity’ and now 17 years after the last album from the band, this is a great way of building up to something new. The album sounds as if all involved had a great time, something that may take away slightly from the listening pleasure, as if you are listening to someone else party through a wall, but it just made me want to see them again and hear some new stuff.
In short, this is uncomplicated, catchy, gimmick free rock. Whether Kerbdog can fully recapture those days with new material remains to be seen, but this is a brilliant example of how good we were at producing good solid rock bands back in the day. Plenty here for fans old and new.