The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey - The Mekons became a band while University of Leeds students in 1977, in the same scene that gave birth to Gang of Four. They released their noise punk on album before going on hiatus in 1982. The Mekons came back together in 1984. Punk still informed the band’s storytelling, and the 1984 Miners Strike gave The Mekons political fodder. The big difference in The Mekons sound was the addition of Country twang and mountain instrumentation.
Fear and Whiskey was released in 1985, keeping core members Jon Langford and Tom Greenhaigh, and adding former members of The Damned (Lu Mond) and The Rumour (Steve Goulding) to the new instruments of fiddle (Susie Honeymoon), accordion (Rico Bell aka Eric Bellis) and Sally Timms on vocals. Fear and Whiskey maintained The Mekons punk ethics and brought in a Roots sensibility that planted a flag for Alt Country on British soil.
Fear and Whiskey opens its swinging barroom doors with “Chivalry” offering one gloved hand for chamber music, while the other hand is picking guitar licks. The track brings a gentle grace to the album yet like many things from the old west, looks, and listens, can be deceiving. “Darkness and Doubt” shudders on sawdust as it spins drunkenly around the dance floor, “Last Dance” keeps its Country in Celtic Reel form, “Flitcraft” waltzes on heavy-soled Doc Maartens, and “Hard to Be Human Again” spits punk into its Folk Rock. The Mekons wrote a new chapter for the way Country and Rock can play together, or wrestle….. it can go either way with Fear and Whiskey. “Country” rides a long stretch of backhills roads with the flap of rubber belts slapping the beat and “Lost Highway” exists the album as it heads towards a sunset that stretches on forever as The Mekons Alt Country is still on tour.