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Fear & Whiskey Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

5.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, January 22, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Long hailed as a precurser to the current alternative country and roots-rock scene, Fear & Whiskey has been remastered by the Mekons and is released now for the first time on CD in its originial form. Inspired by folk, honkey-tonk and Cajun music and boasting a pathological fear of closing time.


Some albums are of their time, and some are for all time. This record, originally released in 1985, is both. It was made in mid-'80s England, when Margaret Thatcher's government was carrying on a pitiless war against the nation's own less fortunate citizens. The corrosive stink of broken miners' strikes and dole-bound desperation suffuse the album like toxic perfume. The former punks from Leeds (now split between Chicago and London) sing about covert military operations in foreign lands, feeling like exiles in their own country, other people's shattered lives, and their own hangovers. But they never sound hopeless; indeed, their ragged-voiced defiance is quite uplifting, and their barbed music is just as irrepressible. In a move that seemed crazy at the time but now looks inevitable, the Mekons made their saw-toothed guitars (including some played by the Pretty Things' Dick Taylor) dance with lilting country & western fiddles; the record closes with a rousing scorched-earth cover of Hank Williams's "Lost Highway." Sixteen-plus years down the road, Fear and Whiskey sounds as great and relevant as ever. Hard economic times and military adventures in faraway lands seem to be making a comeback, the indelible tunes endure, and let's face it--nowadays it's as "Hard to Be Human" as it ever was. --Bill Meyer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Quarter Stick
  • ASIN: B00005UKMG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,904 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
One of the great records of its era or any era.
The 2 star review above can only be a product of that reviewers genre bias. That reviewers recommends the mekons' more straight-forward rock efforts. Fear and Whiskey is not such... What it is is tremendously fun and painful at the same time.
Think Hank Williams at 6 AM after too much whiskey filtered through punk aesthetic.
The mekons have many amazing records in a number of genres. Rock and Roll is a great album in, well I bet you can guess that one, and So good it hurts is a wonderful slanted synth album, but Fear and Whiskey and its partner The Edge of the World are beyond genre and beyond tremendous.
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Format: Audio CD
Down in the deepest, darkest and ickiest parts of your belly there live little elves. There are good elves and bad elves. The bad elves represent all the bad things: your secret hidden desires, your sinful guilty pleasures, your slothful and idle inclinations towards pleasure and enjoyment (these elves play country music, are paunchy, and sport strange facial hairs).
The good elves represent all the things that attempt to keep you straight: your lingering regrets, your beleaguered conscience, your rose-colored pipe-dreams and aspirations (these elves, constantly anxious and fretful about they day everything ends, cannot sit still and so play every kind of music imaginable; they look like bald-headed straight edge/post-rock kids except they, you know, laugh once in a while).
The bad elves and the good elves in your belly hate each other. Every once in a while they get together (buy each other a few drinks) and then fight fight fight.
What happens when they do is exceptional, it sounds like a battle and it sounds like a dance. This (minus the goofy "elves" nonsense) is what "Fear and Whiskey", and Mekons in general, sounds like. Three cheers!
Buy this one, and then, with that big goofy grin on your face, get your hands on everything else the Mekons have ever done.
And stop reading music criticism.
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Format: Audio CD
I think a true test of truly transcendent art in any medium is does it seem dated now? For instance, some of these recent "from the archives" Dylan releases sound like they could have been recorded yesterday. I used to LOVE Roxy Music in their day but I was recently listening to AVALON and - though I still like it - it sounds a little "of its time" to me. It doesn't mean I can't still appreciate it. FEAR AND WHISKEY. I am not even too sure it was appreciated by many back in 1985 but who cares. It sounds wonderful now. It's sloppy and drunken and all over the place. It's inspired music. It's a feast. It makes me renew my vows to great alternative music and so-called indie rock, to rock n roll in general. I love how the Mekons never cared about sticking to a genre. I see all of these bands that Pitchfork and hipster blogs and zines support and the Mekons so hold their own as a shining example of paving their own path. I hear all of that stuff about this record "inventing" alt-country. Maybe. Still sounds like the Mekons to me. And it probably did invent that genre...in a Mekons way. I am not even too sure if I hear that many bands today that sound like the Mekons (as I do with, say, the Replacements or, obviously, Gang of Four and a bunch of brooding eighties Brit bands. You know which bands I mean). But does it matter? I could wish...but I know for sure that the Mekons will never get elected in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They will probably never really come back (Come back? Were they here?) into vogue. But this record is so brilliant and fresh. I have to think that some future Jeff Tweedy or Jack White or Stephen Malkmus or Neutral Milk Hotel....is going to say that Mekons were (are...they will probably still be around. Give us another thirty!!) a seminal band. I think they are. Listen to this record. It was from Mars then. And it is still is. That is part of the greatness.
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Format: Audio CD
I can't say enough about this album; Fear and Whiskey embodies every thing that is great about underground music: fierce, inventive, catchy, political, sloppy, passionate, thoughtful, idiosyncratic, cross-cutting... IMO, the Mekons' finest moment in a long and great career (although "Edge of the World," "Rock & Roll," and "Journey to the End of the Night" are all superb albums and worthy of any self-respecting music collection). While F&W is often compared to the music of the recent fad of alt-country groups, there is a big and important difference. The Mekons started out as punks and much of F&W sounds like old school country as drunkenly reinterpreted by a group of people who remain punks at heart (I think the same can be said of some of the early Meat Puppets' stuff, which holds a similar appeal for me). In contrast, the so-called No Depression stuff sounds like the music of a bunch of country lads that own a Minutemen album or two. The Mekons transcend the country and western genre on F&W, fusing it brilliantly with punk, folk, and new wave. Yes, a lot of F&W is country, but, at the same time, it is still very punk (which can't be said for most of the Mekons' later albums). In addition, the songwriting is superb. For example, "Chivalry" opens with the classic line: "I was out late the other night, Fear and Whiskey kept me going...", while "Hard to be Human" offers: "Looking for existence in my red, red wine..." Plus, you could not ask for a better or more poignant/melancholic pair of album closers: "Last Dance" and "Lost Highway." Beautiful stuff. My only complaint is the one offered by others: why not re-release "Original Sin," with the extra 9 tracks, including the amazing "Slightly South of the Border" EP?!?! The world needs the Mekons' cover of Gram Parsons' "$1,000 Wedding!"
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