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“A war is raging that we don’t understand…”
While reading some of Algy Ward’s personal notes on the experience during and surrounding Tank’s forth studio venture I can’t help becoming enthralled in the tales told like a cat drawn to a faster small prey. Around a year hiatus after Tank’s 1983 classic This Means War (which is really quite a while considering Tank released the previous three albums within an 18 month period) Tank return in a slightly revaluated form. Dropping Brabbs brother Peter and Mark due to internal person conflict, filling shoes are former White Spirit skinman Graham Crallan and Cliff Evans taking second man guitar duties. Considering the changes the chemistry is still very strong not seeming to have much of an effect on the songwriting.
The Music like usual is that fine mix of rough with finer points of melody. After almost completely finding their own sound and distancing from the Motörhead comparisons with This Means War. Tank continue to reinforce and progress into more mature minded territory. Honour and Blood seems to be made and arranged in a very similar way to its predecessor, but when you’ve got hold of a great formula why change it? The musicians themselves are all in great shape. Algy’s vocals being perhaps the best in their career showing a wide range of different dynamics from his traditional semi drunk sounding guttural falsetto. There’s definitely some killer guitar battle solos in vein of ’83 – ‘84 era Priest compliments of Mick Tucker/Chris Evans probably the strongest Tank guitar duo to this day.
The War Drags Ever On starts the 12” off in similar epic war fashion to the predecessor’s Just Like Something From Hell synth intro and all, Though not quite as sharp toothed as Just Like Something From Hell. The first noticeable musical change is the back-street style choir added for dramatic impact on the three war epics on the album. I think the harsh realization of war and what it actually is and means for soldiers involved is captured in a more captivating way this time around. W.M.L.A. (Wasting My Life Away) is probably the most impressive song if discussing exploring new avenues. A comtempory, melancholy sounding 5 minute piece showing a lighter side of Algy’s wind-pipes with the gruffness of his usual throaty bellow dropped in favour of a more down to earth look at the virtues and desperations of searching for love. Trying to be as objective as possible it’s not my favourite Tank song, I enjoy songs about war and kicking arse as much as the next guy. But you really have to sit back and enjoy the quiet resonance not often achieved. There’s a human being inside the war-torn veteran, it’s not all Blood, Guts And Beer. Too Tired to Wait For Love is the only other song on the album with the same contempory ideas explored. However straight after W.M.L.A. it almost seems like a “We haven’t gone completely soft” statement, with it’s more superficial view towards love. It’s almost like two different viewpoint songs about love have been written, funny in an ironic way.
Apart from a hit or miss cover of Don Covay’s Chain of Fools (originally made famous by “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin) Honour and Blood is one of Tank’s most consistent efforts showing some of the most diverse material produced by the band to date. It could almost be considered Tank’s best effort with it’s stellar production qualities and perfected song writing. The unfortunate truth is it just doesn’t quite hold up there against the amount of 5 star material on Tank’s predecessor This Means War but is a close runner-up.
“…And I doubt that we can”