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Glen Matlock: Born Running

Reviewed By: John Clarkson
Label: Freeworld Records
Format: CD

For all its grinding riffs and exuberant nature, there is an air of poignancy to ‘Born Running’, Sex Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock and his occasional band the Philistines’ latest album. It is dedicated to Matlock’s former Rich Kids’ band mate and guitarist, Steve New. New died in May after a lengthy battle with cancer and made his final recording appearances playing lead guitar on three of the songs on ‘Born Running'.

That sense of sadness at New’s passing extends into other areas as well on ‘Born Running’. It finds the now 54 year old Matlock, by no means having given up hope on the future, but aware on songs such as the title track (“Seems like today’s so soon tomorrow and tomorrow’s yesterday”) and ‘Something Tells Me’ and ‘Way to Go’, two of the songs involving New, that he is getting older and time is rapidly passing for him.

Other songs such as ‘Hard Work’ and the sarcastic ‘Yeah Right’, a co-write with Patti Palladin, finds Matlock, now one of the elder statesman of punk, turning his fury on those young pretenders to the throne who think that they can get by simply on attitude and posturing alone.

As a musician, Matlock, allegedly sacked from the Sex Pistols for liking the Beatles, has been sometimes under-rated. The often forgotten main tunesmith in the Pistols, his flair for melody has, however, always been second to none. ‘Born Running‘ exudes in fiery energy and across tracks such as the glam rock-influenced ‘T.R.O.U.B.L.E’, the choppy ‘Hard Work’ and the shimmering ‘Nowheresville’, the other song which features New, Matlock reveals that he has lost none of his ability for a catchy and thunderously strong tune.

Where it all, however, becomes somewhat unstuck, however, is in its sometimes weak lyrics. ‘Rock Chick’ in particular, for all its intended irony (“Never a location where your face don’t fit/You got your invitation, firmly in your hand”), comes across as the sleazy and embarrassing rumblings of someone old enough to know better. Other lyrics, such as those on ‘T.R.O.UB.L.E’(“I’m a pile of rubble/In T.R.O.UB.L.E”) and ‘Nowheresville’(But they ain’t equal and we end up treading treacle”), are often throwaway and lame.

Despite this, however, and while Matlock will never have the same lyrical calibre of, say, John Lydon or even former Rich Kids singer, Midge Ure, ‘Born Running’ is a largely solid album. It certainly abounds with energy and is, especially in light of Steve New’s recent death, often genuinely moving. ‘Born Running’ shows what a fine musician Glen Matlock continues to be.

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