CD Review: Croak Ditch: Double Release (album)

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By Graham Chalmers

THE last time I reviewed this Viking helmet-clad gang of Harrogate rock reprobates I joked that I couldn’t name any of the tracks in print, such was the offensive nature of the lyrics.

Nothing’s changed this time round except instead of one CD of savage and silly musical assaults on good taste we now have two, the band’s first double set, a ‘White Album’ of filth.

Crude, juvenile and puerile - and that’s only Croak Ditch’s good parts, such is the band’s obsession with bodily functions, transgressive sexual behaviour and religious beliefs, not to forget blasphemous combinations of all three.

Amazingly, and thankfully, the venom of their attacks on public decency is matched by the venom of the music.

Even the daftest of tracks on this epic swear fest crackle with energy and burst with deliciously big hooks.

Musically, Croak Ditch take a punk rocker’s approach to the best bits of the entire history of ‘rock’ from the 1970s to the present day, swerving slightly to avoid the extremes of thrash and death metal.

Despite the vulgarity of the words, the band are no dummies, sharing the same aesthetic of trash culture as, say the equally intelligent rappers Beastie Boys, Norwegian anti-PC rockers Turbonegro or subversive TV comedy show South Park.

Croak Ditch may not sound like Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention for a single section but, like those provocative pranksters of the past, there’s a strong moral streak running throughout their music.

What sustains the band’s approach in all 20 disgusting tracks is a dislike of the dishonesty, double standards and hypocrisy of modern society.

The band are probably bright enough to know these shock tactics have been tried many times before, from the Pistols and Dead Kennedys onwards.

But that’s the precise nature of the gag here.

In a way, however, the biggest joke may be on Croak Ditch themselves.

Take away the naughty lyrics and what have we got - tight and imaginative arrangements, classic lead guitar lines, great songs basically.

Ha! The ultimate japesters are actually a serious band.