The Rifles: No Love Lost Deluxe Edition

Three-CD remaster bonanza from the 21st-century mods.

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Searing, urgent and impactful The Rifles’ heart was worn on their sleeve, their influences proudly flaunted on this fast-paced 2005 debut album. Here it’s given a lavish reissue – a notable reboot in the mastering department assuring sonic ‘welly’ and a surfeit of extras – to mark both the band’s 10th anniversary and the reconvening of the original four-piece line-up.

Formed in the wake of Oasis mania, the East London-originated band matched trad influences to the moody individualism of frontman Joel Stoker’s songs, their perspectives recalling Weller (an early fan and prime influence) back in The Jam’s halcyon days.

Prickly and hyper-sensitive takes on personal relationships (She’s Got Standards, the tongue-tied romancing of She’s The Only One) are a major calling card. A strong undertow of melancholy is undercut with guitar lead melodic surety as on Local Boy with its breakneck nostalgia for fast-disappearing youthful concern. The epic seven-minute plus, two-part closer Narrow Minded Social Club seals Stoker’s social engagement tackling the ever present scourge of small town horizons and random violence.

Despite the impassioned confidence it’s not all perfect. The Rifles musical reach and Stoker’s songwriting have thankfully long since the obligatory embarrassing fumble of One Night Stand which lands awkwardly somewhere between the naif and the naff. But hardcore followers will treasure boisterous big biz put-down Fat Cat, the pick of the B-sides and demos such as piano-centred Peace & Quiet.

Elsewhere covers (Bob Marley and The Specials) flesh out a musical game plan which is still advancing now, as they celebrate their first decade together./o:p

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.