Jackson United – Harmony and Dissidence – Review

jacksonunited200Jackson United

Harmony and Dissidence (Acetate)
By Craig Regala

All pro rock guys get back to their roots with a melodic late ’70s English into mid-’80s California sound. Members include bassist Scott Shiftlet (Face To Face), his brother Chris (Foo Fighters/Me First and the Gimme Gimmes), Joe Kid (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) – he didn’t play on the record though, and the sticks were handled by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins (both Foo Fighters), and Doug Sangalang (One Time Angels).

Smooth melodic stuff owing to the first and second generation English punk bands as they hit their second and third records and began adding more black music and “rock” moves. Think The Jam’s Setting Sons, Stiff Little Fingers Go For It and The Clash’s Give’m Enough Rope and Black Market Clash as well as rock bands that came right after the punk blowout: U2, The Redskins, The Skids/ Big Country, The Members, Chelsea, The Ruts, and the folks those units influenced in California. Especially the Orange County explosion Thrasher and Flipside have detailed. Jeez, there were/are how many thousands of these bands? Well, some of the early ones whose recs I think got spun by these guys as teenagers include D.I., No Crisis, Channel Three, Social Distortion, Agent Orange, hell, a buncha the discs “Rodney on the Rock” was spinning on KROQ in the early ’80s.

How’s the disc? Pretty good, pretty good… These guys know what they’re after and write ringing energetic rock with subtle hooks, anthemic choruses, and a great ass-end. The slight offbeat element pulled from ska slides in now and again and works great. Some tunes sound real familiar cuz I grew up on a bunch of the stuff this references. The single, “21st Century Fight Song,” has simplistic earnest, us-against-them lyrics (punk as folk), but the song’s strong meat and potatoes that’d be good on the radio. “The radio” is what I listen to when I drive and I wanna hear stuff that clocks in through car speakers, and these guys got that dynamic down. My favorite songs on the disc: “Damn You,” a great tune that’s gotta have DNA from The Alarm (remember their ’83 single “The Stand”?) and “White Flag Burning” which woulda been the second best song on Big Country’s ’83 LP, In A Big Country. Love to hear’m cover “I Love the World” or “Vagabonds” off the wonderful English unit New Model Armys’ Thunder and Consolation and something from The Proletariats’ ’85 rec Indifference. OK, and The Clash’s “Stay Free,” which I bet ya a ham sandwich on rye they already know. So play’m with all this stuff I‘ve mentioned, and toss in Gaslight Anthem, The Offspring, Government Issue, and The Living End fer shits and grins.