Even Pete Doherty stoops to making records from time to time, and Shotters Nation might be the best chance hell ever have to convince the wider public that theres more to him than his role as Britains favourite comedy junkie. Finally given a major label budget and a name producer, the eternally erratic Doherty can show that he didnt peak with the Libertines early singles. Babyshambles murky sounding debut Down in Albion was patchy but had its moments, but thankfully the present line-up, bolstered by veteran guitarist Mick Whitnall, sound focussed throughout, producer Stephen Street absolutely nailing a classic if dated Brit rock sound. Dohertys chaotic existence certainly generates plenty of material and what used to be called side one is cracking. "Carry on up the Morning", the punchy if mawkish hit single "Delivery" and the catchy "UnBiloTitled", a pretty song about seedy lives, are powerful and compelling. "Crumb Begging Baghead" is lyrically pitiful yet insistently memorable and "Unstookie Titled" appears to offer some unexpected self-awareness. The second half of the record is less strong, though veteran acoustic guitarist Bert Jansch appears on the maudlin closer "Lost Art of Murder" and the junkie business of "There She Goes" is amusingly sleazy if musically slight. Doherty is an unusual star, living a life no one could aspire to, and in his defence, he never glamorises it. But if fame is a state where ones life is beyond ones control, then its no surprise that a junkie should take to it so naturally. Shotters Nation almost justifies his status. --Steve Jelbert
Behind the notorious caricature of the frontman in the red tops, can Babyshambles actually churn out some good tunes?
Pete and Co take you on a lamenting, lethargically sung journey through Doherty's demons via a music catalogue which rips off/pays tribute - however you want to put it - to the Kinks', 'You Really Got Me' ('Delivery'), The Cure's, 'Love Cats' ('There She Goes') all the way through The Stone Roses ('Crumb Begging Baghead'), punk ('Side Of The Road') Happy Mondays/Smiths/ska and even Brit pop with Blur/Morrissey producer, Stephen Street, at the helm of the good ship Babyshambles.
Pete as confessional storyteller delivers lyrically about what he knows best with Kate, love, crack, losing yourself, murky England, crack, the fame game, tabloids and er ! crack being the obvious calls.
Pete's hooked in 'There She Goes', as he sings: 'When you came through my door/ and from your bag/you pulled out more skag than I'd ever seen/No! how could I let go?' He contemplates cleaning up in 'Lost Art Of Murder': 'Get up off your back/Stop smoking that/If you change your life/Do you think they'll change their minds...'
But drugs aside, the tracks venture in to unexpectedly tightly executed rhythms and guitar melodies, which translate to universal tales of hapless relationships. Take 'Baddie's Boogie', sympathizing with a washed up wife with her drunk of a husband and the even quite beautiful 'Deft Left Hand' with our protaganist crying, 'I will lay down and die if I can't lie by your side'.
A sporadically compelling album with a dirty charm of its own, Babyshambles have upped the stakes since their poorly received 2005, Down In Albion but then that was never going be hard, was it? --Sonja D'Cruze
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