Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Punk Rock

Old British radicals celebrate anniversary by relearning old songs

There are no new songs on Punk Rock, just new live and studio performances generated by the nominally alt-country radicals' 2002 twenty-fifth-anniversary tour, when they got their mad fans out to successive shows devoted to successive phases of their multifarious career. It's no surprise that the Mekons of 1977 were as besotted with the Sex Pistols as every conscious young Briton. The surprise is that the realist rage of material they had barely thought about in years feels so right in the age of Dubya. The tunes that enliven memorable punk don't magically materialize now. But as writing--as examples of articulated rage--the likes of "Corporal Chalkie" and "I'm So Happy" were why cell leaders Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh chose rock & roll. And why they choose it still.

Blender, Jan. 2004