Wingmen – Wingmen

  • Phinky posted
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Wingmen - Cadiz Music

Like my first review of the year, Wingmen’s debut album is another product of forced inactivity during lockdown, a time that saw seasoned road veterans sat at home twiddling their thumbs and going quietly stir crazy as they were unable to tour, or even go into the studio to do what they do best. In Wingmen’s case the veterans in question are Baz Warne (The Stranglers), Paul Gray (The Damned), Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC) and Marty Love (Johnny Moped) who conspired digitally to create this project remotely, with only Paul Gray and Marty Love having previously worked together in the Sensible Gray Cells. The band’s line up will be further enhanced by relative newcomer Rob Coombes (Supergrass) when they tour the UK later this month.

The name Wingmen suggests that the members are the trusted supporting cast to the respective band’s original members, whilst none are founder members of their current outfits, that notion would be doing them a huge disservice. Baz Warne has been the frontman with The Stranglers for over two decades. Paul Gray was with The Damned at their creative peak and has returned to their ranks on two further occasions, including their current line up. Leigh Heggerty has been an essential part of the resurgence of Ruts DC in recent years and Marty Love took over behind the kit for Johnny Moped’s latest album, and that’s before you dig into into the other numerous and notable bands the quartet have played in over the years.


So with their past and present glories established, what do Wingmen actually sound like? Well, it sounds like all of them, or none of them, sometimes some of them, that isn’t that helpful, whilst some of the signatures from their musical past are present, there is no overly dominant influence in the band’s sound, think of it as a hybrid. Appropriately enough the album launches on Starting Blocks, a jaunty post punk meets psychedelia instrumental, this is exactly how you’d imagine a meeting of the current incarnations of The Stranglers and The Damned to sound, it is followed by The Last Cigarette that keeps the vibe going with a kind of laid back attitude, one that flirts with menace and bluesy pysche.


Louis Smoked The Bible is a jaunty piece of 60’s pop viewed through a dark lens, with Brits bringing an almost (almost) bouncy indie sensibility viewed through the same prism. I Would If I Could is a scathing political diatribe for the state of the UK at the moment, although sadly I doubt that’s the only country that this would be applicable to. The superb Down In The Hole brings Wingmen‘s dark poppy sound to its natural conclusion, a dark and eerie punk tune with spiralling keyboards, whilst Mary Go Round is the perfect follow up to this album’s finest moment. Another highlight from the album is Oh! What A Carry On, and given the band’s vintage it seems appropriate that this is the band’s response to the farce of Brexit.

The final duo are Backstage At The Opera, that would have been a welcome addition to the later albums by The Damned & The Stranglers, and It’s Raining All Over England, a track that has a distinctly grandiose quality, that when coupled with it’s anthemic qualities gives you the perfect conclusion to this impressive experiment. Wingmen were borne out of boredom and necessity, which, when put in those terms, makes them about as authentically punk as you can get. It must be said that The Stranglers influence tips the balance in the overall sound, and fans of the men in black will be well pleased with this album, but this really is recommended for anyone with a taste for the less abrasive side of the old school.

Wingmen’s self titled debut is now available via streaming platforms, the album is also available for pre-order on CD and vinyl via Cadiz Music.