It’s been a pretty exciting time of it for albums lately – Nick Burbridge and Tim Cotterill’s ‘Gathered’ was swiftly followed by ‘Static on the Airwaves’ courtesy of The Levellers. In the same bracket of anticipation for me was the first album offering from local band Ferocious Dog – who, if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook acquaintance I’d be surprised if you’ve not seen me mention – because they’re ace.
They’ve been around for bloody ages in some shape or form, beginning in the late 80’s and undergoing a number of transitions. Their current incarnation began life in 2011 shortly after I was lucky enough to happen upon them, and they are going from strength to strength.
I became aware of them through my friend Jen who mentioned them after we’d been to see Mark Chadwick in Nottingham. A few months later and Mark was due to play a gig in Warsop, supported by Ferocious Dog. I excitedly got in touch with violin player Dan to get tickets, chuffed at the chance to see Mark play locally again. I’d checked out Ferocious Dog fleetingly on YouTube and got lost in poor sound quality recordings from gigs and kind of left it there.
So, Dan lives opposite the house I grew up in in Mapperley, which was a bit freakish – upon grabbing the tickets he naturally asked if I’d heard their stuff. I probably bluffed a bit that I’d checked them out on YouTube and MySpace (not a lie as such, but I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have done), and he kindly handed me a CD – embarrassingly I literally had the right money from the tickets, so headed off sheepishly to my car, at that time one without a CD player, and headed home.
Once there I ripped the CD to my iTunes library and synced them over to my phone to check out in the car on the way to work the next day – and was blown away, four tracks (all of which feature on the album), all full of power, great lyrics, great music. The ticket I’d bought to see Mark Chadwick at the Black Market Venue in Warsop promised to be rather better than I had hoped! So I’ve seen Ferocious Dog a number of times since that day.
They’ve supported such luminaries as Mark Chadwick – as mentioned – of the Levellers fame, Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls from the Wonder Stuff, troubadour Dan Donnelly and Levellers fiddler Jon Sevink and 3 Daft Monkeys down at The Bodega in Nottingham in a raucous evening of debauchery – and top gigs they all were. They’re also making a stir on the festival scene, playing Bearded Theory and six others – and are now starting to reap the benefits of their live experiences in the studio.
Earlier in the year they released Hell Hounds as a single, with On The Rocks as a b-side – a re-recorded version of the track from the EP – they’re available on iTunes and highly recommended – but it was with considerable excitement that I and their fanatical fanbase anticipated their first album – and it dropped through the post today and didn’t disappoint. The only minor quibble you’d have is that it’s too short – but for six quid and the promise of more studio time to come, you can almost consider it a tease.
For me it had the comfort of old familiar faces on there – all four tracks with which I’ve become indelibly close to over the last year and are there – Mairi’s Wedding Part 2, a sequel of sorts to the traditional tune is brilliant, Quiet Paddy another barnstormer, Criminal Justice charts the systematic destruction of the mining industry and, once the concept was proven on the miners, further civil liberties by Thatcher and co, and then On The Rocks – which, well, speaks for itself!
Then we have the slightly-less-close-friend of Hell Hounds, another tune I love – a slower start for the opening track of the CD but it soon kicks in to the kind of energetic ruckus that leads to the considerable moshing sessions you’ll see at the front of any Ferocious Dog gig. There’s a couple of tracks I’ve heard at gigs, Too Late shows a more sensitive and delicate side, starting acoustic and quiet but inevitably gaining in energy, and the final track Lyla is an epic six minuter starting slow and changing energy throughout.
The new one for me was Freeborn John – always going to pique my interest because it’s inspired by John Lilburne, one of my heroes. A different-to-normal bass-laden start with pretty haunting vocals and snatches of other instruments mingling with the dominating bassline eventually capitulates to more harmonious sound then powers on into an almighty fiddle-driven jig. It’s cracking. I can’t wait until 29th September when they’re playing at The Bodega again – it promises to be a top top night.
You can avail yourself of the album from the Ferocious Dog website for the bargainous fee of £6 plus £1.50 postage and packing, or pick it up at one of their festival appearances or gigs. If you still need convincing to make such a modest investment in such awesome and hard-working local talent then get yourself on to their Last.fm page (which I inadvertently seem to have found myself in charge of!) and have a listen to their stuff on there. Then go and buy it.