Album Review: SSHH – Issues

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Issues - Pledge Music

UK duo SSHH is joining forces with some of the most influential rhythm sections in history to come up with a collection of cover versions titled Issues. Issues is the debut album from singer Sshh Liguz and guitarist Zak Starkey, also known as a drummer for Oasis and The Who and son of Ringo Starr. Issues includes a plethora of special guests to weave together a genre defying strut through the last five decades of music. The idea behind the record was born when SSHH were asked to do a radio series which featured the music that had influenced them, but they decided to take things a step further. They located the original rhythm sections from those bands, and recruited them to play on the tracks they originally recorded.

The album opens with a raucous version of the classic Sex Pistols track, Problems, which features Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, this is a fairly straight cover but one that is raw and true to the original and it marks a fine start to the album. The version of The RutsJah War, featuring the two remaining members from the original line up of The Ruts, is a departure from the original, this is a far more dub heavy version then the original, it also features heavy elements of electronica. For me this version lost the energy of the original, but it does capture it’s spirit, and is closer to the The Ruts DC sound than that of the original line up that recorded it.

Shoot Speed Kill Light features a duo from Primal Scream and this is another number that is true to the original, although with a slightly more spacey feel. All The Young Dudes features a lone member of Mott The Hoople accompanied by one member from the Sex Pistols and one of The Pretenders, this is another unadventurous but faithful run through, but it’s a solid version. The cover of Big Pink‘s Dominos features the vocalist from that band dueting with Sshh, along with several of Marilyn Manson‘s partners in crime, giving this a slightly heavier more menancing feel. Blondie‘s One Way Or Another, featuring their sticksman and one time Ramone, Clem Burke, returns to giving a straight up, but very raw feeling, version of the original.

Amy Winehouse‘s Back To Black is given the dub treatment, with the assistance of two of the much missed singer’s backing band, Grace Jones’ Private Life is given a thorough reworking, and signifies the return of Martin Chambers, of The Pretenders, and Glen Matlock, of the Sex Pistols. One track I expected to have the full dub ttreatment, Bob Marley‘s Get Up Stand Up is given a more strident and defiant feel, but one that manages to capture the spirit of the original. The Ruts are the only band on here to have more than one track covered, and the two original members return for a stripped down run through of their classic single Babylon’s Burning, with it’s incendiary bass line and guitar parts faithfully reproduced.

The album closes with The Small Faces track, Tin Soldier, this features an original member of The Small Faces, a Sex Pistol and a member of Oasis, this is a fine closing number to an album of covers that has had more hits than misses, for completists of the bands featured this would be a worthwhile purchase, and when you consider that proceeds from the album go to the Teenage Cancer Trust. It really is hard to find fault with this collection of reinterpretations. It embraces the original rock ’n’ roll of the sixties, through punk, reggae and dub into modern soul and electronica, and it is all done with style.

I normally try to avoid doing track by track reviews as it’s makes the review ridiculously long and doesn’t really tell you anything about the album, but with an album where the line up changes on every song, and the style and approach shift constantly I didn’t really have much of a choice. Obviously with any collection of this nature not every track is going to be to your taste, you might not like the original song or in some cases you’ll find the new version to be a pale shadow of the original, but this is a varied and interesting album, the fact they have employed original members to appear on the album gives this collection some added credibility, and raises it above a straight collection of covers.

Issues can be ordered via Pledge Music here