- Audio CD (4 July 2005)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Necessary/Atlantic
- ASIN: B0009OU2M8
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,949 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Stars of CCTV Import
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Hard-Fi are the product of their suburban West London environment; the sound of twenty-something gun-slingers on the minimum wage. Stars Of CCTV, their debut album, is the sound of a band weaned on the heady concrete glamour of The Clash, Dexys, and Happy Mondays - of thuggish attitude-drenched anthems of modern living and hometown ennui.
Road-tested in a car speeding the mean streets of Staines, Stars Of CCTV - the debut album from Middlesexs Hard-Fi consciously sets out to update the sense of frustrated tension and suburban dread that powered second-wave ska acts like The Specials and The Beat back at the close of the 70s.
Dont get it twisted, this isnt ska-punk a la Brit troupers [Spunge] and Capdown: Hard-Fi play this music lean and moody, like The Streets on downers, or Massive Attack plugging in and tuning up. "Cash Machine" sees a swallowed debit card as the jump-off for vocalist Richard Archer to spin a tale of crushing poverty and unwanted pregnancy, spurred along by thrumming dub bass and the sad wheeze of a vibraphone. They do upbeat as well, as club anthem "Hard To Beat" a heart-fluttering composite of Northern Soul elation and fist-pumping Rockers reggae joyfully confirms. But its the emotional struggle, the ups and downs of life, that keeps Stars Of CCTV engaging throughout: see penultimate track "Living For The Weekend", a hedonistic blast filled with not a little of the passion that fuelled Oasis Definitely Maybe, which succeeds chiefly because its all too aware of the bad times as well as the good. --Louis Pattison
Top Customer Reviews
Every track crackles with energy - this is the raw sound of disenchanted youth on the edge of greatness, determined to break out of a grey backwater and head for the bright lights of the city. Anyone who's ever been stuck in a dead-end job will identify with frontman and songwriter Richard Archer's vignettes of everyday working-class life; there's the anguish of being broke on 'Cash Machine', the elation of a new crush on 'Hard to Beat', the bitterness of the subsequent break-up on 'Better Do Better', joy at the prospect of two days and nights of freedom on 'Living for the Weekend'. 'Middle Eastern Holiday' is as fierce and vitriolic an anti-war song as you'll hear anywhere, but like the rest of the tracks, it's written from a heart-wrenchingly personal point of view. Along with 'Feltham is Singing Out', it illustrates Hard-Fi's ability to tackle social issues with breathtaking effectiveness, while skilfully avoiding making their songs into political polemics. The title track is a fitting close to the album - a sublime paean to a world in which every move we make is caught on camera, it all hinges on Archer's sneering refrain of 'can't you see the camera loves me', his voice dripping with sarcasm.Read more ›
'Stars of CCTV' was definitely worth the wait. Much like the band Dum Dums from a good few years back, Hard-Fi sing about the few perks and many perils of growing up in a crap town - however this offering isn't only about the standard money/girl problems.
Here's my brief guide to the tracks:
1. Cash Machine - Fantastic moody bassline to a strong song, with inspired lyrics about an unwanted pregnancy whilst in financial turmoil. Ought to be re-released as well as being given to a DJ (potential for an awesome remix).
2. Middle Eastern Holiday - A bit strange on the first listen, but really grows on you. Now one of my favourites. Moves at pace, again with strong lyrics from frontman Richard Archer; describing some peers taking up arms for the Iraq war whilst others continue their mundane routine of life in the suburbs.
3. Tied Up Too Tight - Catchy hook with singalong 'La la la la la laaaa' bits. Wouldn't necessarily have been a single choice for me as I believe there are lyrically stronger songs on here - but musically this is faily upbeat with a random reference to footwear.
4. Gotta Reason - Sounds like the soundtrack to a gang of chavs off to bash up a rival gang of chavs who've 'been on their turf'. They'd be on a mission, and so is this song. Grab your baseball bat and go along for the ride.
5. Hard To Beat - Alternative anthem of the Summer. An upbeat tale of lust and urban romance amongst the concrete and above the whiff of Burberry aftershave.Read more ›
The CD as a whole isn't totally cohesive, the title track is weak and I'm not convinced over the piano ballad "Move on Now". Probably worth 4.5 stars in my opinion, down to those two "weaker" tracks.
Those two aside though, the rest is absolutely storming. The obvious parallels with the Clash/Specials are spot on, but do you remember either of these bands at their political/vitriolic best? Musically Hard-fi are up there with them. The driving rhythms, dub bass, singalong choruses, even a drop of mellatron ffs!! The vocals are straight from the Strummer/Jones school of London sloganeering. The messages are much more social commentary for the noughties rather than the heavy political sloganeering of the Thatcher era(the Streets comparisons, lyrically, are fair).They are far from a one trick pony though, and although there are certain sounds and themes running through the bulk of the tracks, there is enough diversity to hold your attention.
The singles are initially the tracks that really jump out at you, but after a few plays there are others that are just as strong - Middle Eastern Holiday, Better do Better, Feltham is singing out, Living for the weekend etc.
"Q" dubbed them the next major British band. Time will tell, but I think they'll be there or thereabouts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this album for a specific song, but all in all a good overall listenPublished 13 months ago by SC
I'm not sure why I didn't check out this superb release when it introduced Hard-Fi's brand of (mostly) hard-rocking, fascinating tales of gritty suburbia way back in 2005. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Prog Rob
Sort of punk reggae with narrative lyrics and terrific, committed performances from the band. Accomplished songwriting too. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Dan Smith
one of the best debut cd's of all time. not a bad song on here. they really should have ben massive.Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer