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Ultrasound - Real Britannia album review

Piss, vinegar, pith and swagger from Ultrasound's Tiny and co.

Ultrasound - Real Britannia album cover

There’s nothing like a dose of obscurity to relight your artistic fire. Late-90s Next-Big-Things Ultrasound splintered apart at the end of 1999 after the bold but frankly bonkers decision to release a double album as their debut, but they reformed in 2010, and are still bursting with the kind of piss and vinegar, pith and swagger that middle-aged musicians rarely retain.

Kon-Tiki and God’s Gift are big, brash riff-driven pop numbers graced by intriguing references to ‘Don Quixote in a fetching onesie’. But all bets are off on the 20-minute Blue Remembered Hills, as Tiny Wood claims, ‘I feel as crippled as Mel C’s tears’ before staggered, staccato riffs go left, forth, right and back either side of references to nervous breakdowns, teenage sexual misadventure and his sister’s bed sheets.

Then it catches light in earnest with a blazing punk passage as guitarist and chief songwriter Richard Green lends some manic solo outbursts to proceedings. All of which sounds as if they’ve still got a dim memory of pop’s rule book but have got its ideas all mixed up with art-punk, neurotic prog and their own enduring, stubborn refusal to be anything but themselves.

Johnny Sharp
Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock