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Album Review: Massive Wagons – Full Nelson

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Massive Wagons are the epitome of the age old saying hard work pays off. After eight years of touring their asses off they finally got a break and were signed to Earache records. Full Nelson is the accumulation of the blood, sweat and tears this band have gone through as they earned their stripes traveling the length and breadth of the UK.
Undoubtably the wagons are one of the best live bands on the circuit and with two excellent albums already under their belt lets dive into the new album and see if it picks up from where “Welcome to the World” left off.
Opener “Under No Illusion” has that chugging riff that anyone who has seen them live before knows and loves. This could be slotted on either of the two previous albums telling you there is no slacking from the boys.
“China Plates” lifts the tempo and resorts to singer Baz’s wicked sense of humour. For me it also holds a bit of a double edge sword. It is a brilliant song and as funny as hell but alas, I reckon I was one of those descending friends on facebook (too many political posts I presume). If I had to point someone in the direction of this band with just one song this would be what I would chose. Yes, I have more favoured songs but this wraps together the brilliant tunes, the lyrics and most importantly that punk edge that the band possesses. Yes, this is a belter.
More fun and games on “Billy Balloon Head” as the lyrics get even dumber. Sometimes with Wagons you can be sidetracked by the carry on in the lyrics and like the live show Baz takes centre stage with his northern shenanigans but when you sit down and really listen to the tracks it is the music that shines, The drums on here are excellent, the bass powerful, the guitars excellent and its a downright awesome rocker of a song.
Time for a bit of blues on “Sunshine Smile”…really I hear you say but those guitars are steeped in bourbon folks. Baz is on top forms with his vocals here and this comes out as my instant favourite so far. It harks back to some classic 90s vibe. You could even be forgiven for believing Slash is in their somewhere in his GnR prime.
Ok, not something Wagons have ever admitted to but “Northern Boy” is meant to be a ballad. This caused a bit of a furor with the fans(yes it is, no it isn’t, what the hell is a ballad) but for me this definitely passes the lighter in the air test but man this is an incredible track. It is not often you get these boys to slow down so this was a joy to listen too. The solo is cracking and if I didn’t know better I reckon the guys have said, shit we are getting older, lets get a slow one in for a breather on stage.
Back to the full on rocking with “Robot(Trust In Me) and(he takes a deep breath) I am not sure this one works. Calm down folks, this is the first track from the boys I have not instantly fell for. I just don’t see what they are going for. Is it a rap song? Is it a spaced out Ozzy number(definitely some Zakk guitars going on). This may well be a grower but I am not so sure, sorry guys.
Next up is no newbie in “Back to the Stack”. It is reworked for this album but I probably do not need to say much about this as this is fan favourite already. A mainstay in the live set and the bands homage to the giants that are Status Quo and a brilliant tribute.
“Hate Me” slips back to the punk genre. The slowly sung lyrics, the spat out venom and this could be a really popular live number. It slots in at the Punk time slot of just over three minutes and is a bundle of fun.
Baz is not all about tongue in cheek lyrics as “Last on the List” proves. His take on how shitty the world is sits well in the current climate, oh, and this song is a demon(well, there was lots of holy stuff going on). This song shows all of the bands dexterity as they change the sound completely. Yip, I just found another favourite.
Now, “Ballad of Verdun Hayes” is not a ballad…in any form. It is a brilliant song to imortalise the veteran D Day survivor who became the oldest skydiver at 101. For that reason alone you have to love this song. I cant say it will be on the live set list but it is a great addition to Full Nelson.
The album finishes off with two of the best tracks from Massive Wagons back catalogue. If you are a fan you know this and if you are not you will fall in love with them immediately. “Ratio” and “Tokyo” are the highlights of the live show without a doubt but I do wonder why they needed to be added on here. I understand the record company want to get their claws into songs like this but for me and the fans I don’t see the point…we have already played these tracks to death.
Ok, stake in the ground time. “Full Nelson” will easily become Massive Wagons best selling album. The hype built up has been brilliant what with the Mural(That I hope is here to stay as I will visit it one day) but remember this, it is not the record company that will make this record successful it is a relationship between a brilliant, down to earth band that have worked their asses off to get here and a fanbase that those performances and previous musical releases has built the hard way.
The record company will push them to the next level though which I cannot wait to see as if anyone
ever deserved the fame and fortune it is these guys. They will get to Tokyo yet.
Review Ritchie Birnie

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