Album Reviews

Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Asbo4Life

(1983) UK release date: 6 April 2009

Goldie Lookin' Chain - Asbo4Life There’s something wonderfully refreshing about Goldie Lookin’ Chain, even after all these years. In an industry that is frequently cynical, over-earnest and prone to disappear up its own backside (sometimes all at the same time), there’s an endearing honesty about Newport’s best novelty rap act.

Their lyrics reference perfectly the minutiae of small town suburban life via puerile white boy humour that should speak to its potential audience with as much (if not more) familiarity and knowing as The Streets. GLC are at least as clever and just as listenable, and they certainly say more about to you about your life than the American gangsta rappers most hip-hop fans are listening to.

Though they describe the album as ‘pimp rock’, a more apt description would, of course, be slightly naughty slacker pop. They sing not so much about genuine crimes and misdemeanours as about the mostly harmless misbehaving that comes from being bored out of your mind in a small town that’s going nowhere while simultaneously being too lazy and/or stoned to actually do anything about it.

Happily flaunting their drug use even more blatantly than Happy Mondays, on Disguise they even give their advice on how to avoid getting caught by the law while trying to buy weed, but we all know that their world is more about a quick toke behind the chip shop than gun-fuelled underworld dealer wars. They’re your rubbish older brother trying to impress you, the IT guy at work’s dodgy mate who makes him think he’s cooler than you.

Of course, it helps immensely that the music is better than it deserves to be. They borrow from and nod in the direction of a host of great pop traditions on this album – the parochial playfulness of The Beatles, the dark humour of Pet Shop Boys (particularly on Apathy, with its West End Girls beat), the genuine white trashiness of Eminem (had he been born in Newport), and even show that they can do vacuous Euro-pop on Space Police’s bleepy electro tale of a robot policeman named Tony. On album closer New Day they even pastiche All Saints‘ Never Ever. In doing so, they produce something that rises above its novelty roots. GLC make take the piss, but they take it with respect for their subject matter, their genre and their listeners. The songs are eminently listenable and eminently danceable.

Asbo4Life is the sound of driving around small towns in your crap car with the window down and the car stereo turned up to the max, of sharing a six-pack and a cheap porn video with your mates while your mum’s out at bingo. More clever and less troll-like than The Enemy, they are the real voice of small, dead-end UK towns and they can’t really be bothered to do anything about it, instead revelling in the tedium with a fond affection you can’t help but love.

If you haven’t got the GLC joke by now, you’re probably not going to, but if you thought it was funny the first time, be glad it’s managing to stay around for so long without outstaying its welcome.

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