’77: High Decibels

The clue’s in the title.

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As Derek Smalls memorably said: ‘‘There’s a fine line between stupid and clever’’. And, it could be argued, an even finer one between homage and mimicry – one that Barcelona’s ’77 stand unashamedly bestride, refreshingly free of either irony or self-consciousness.

Not so much channelling the spirit of 70s era AC/DC as unearthing a lost album and covering it on the sly, the overall effect is both unsettling and uncanny.

Ex-Hellacopter Nicke Andersson presides over a stripped down production straight from the SG/lead/Marshall, 44 fat-snare-keep-off-the-hi-hat manual of antipodean pub rock, with song titles like Backdoor Man, Let’s Beat It Up and Are You Ready For Rock’n’Roll leaving even less room for ambiguity.

Occasionally they take baby steps away from their seemingly strict remit towards the looser territory of Alex Harvey, or even a more sophisticated Spider, only to swiftly return with the missing link between High Voltage and Dirty Deeds.

Whatever one’s feelings on copyists (and ’77 have an authentic aural styling lacking in Airbourne or your local tribute act), there’s a rich seam of unfettered joy and party-time boogie here that’s hard to ignore. In fact, it rocks like an absolute bastard.

Tim Batcup

Tim Batcup is a writer for Classic Rock magazine and Prog magazine. He's also the owner of Cover To Cover, Swansea's only independent bookshop, and a director of Storyopolis, a free children’s literacy project based at the Volcano Theatre, Swansea. He likes music, books and Crass.