There will never be another Powder Monkeys – these guys didn’t just break the mould, they smashed it to pieces.

When John Lydon asserted that anger was an energy, he might have been talking directly about the Powder Monkeys. Tim Hemensley, the band’s principal songwriter, bass player and lead singer, did a hard line in social and political invective. Alienation, frustration, emotional dislocation, social marginalisation – it was there in spades. Add to that rhetorical mix John Nolan’s buzzsaw guitar, and Timmy Jack Ray’s disciplined street fighting rhythm attack, and the Powder Monkeys were just about the toughest, angriest, hardest rock’n’roll bastards in the business.

Smashed On A Knee was recorded originally in 1992, and released in 1993 on Dave Laing’s Dogmeat Records. At the time of its original release, the Powder Monkeys had already established the band’s reputation for intense and powerful live shows; the release of Smashed On A Knee came as something of a disappointment, with the Powder Monkeys’ aural attack buried in a confusing, occasionally turgid mix.

Mikey Young’s careful re-mastering uncovers the sonic gems buried in the original rough mix. The brutality of ‘Another Night In Hell’ verges on frightening; the cathartic anger of ‘Persecution Blues’ is confronting, and perversely pleasurable. Hemensley’s bleeding raw emotional make-up is never as obvious as in ‘I Stand Bare’; ‘Bruised Battered And Bloodshot’ offers a self-destructive antidote to the pains of human existence.

The re-release comes with three bonus tracks, including a cover of Sam and Dave’s ‘I Thank You’ (via a 1977 ZZ Top bootleg), and two alternative versions of ‘Another Nite In Hell’ and ‘Atomic Resolution’.

5/5 stars


Smashed On A Knee is out now through Munster Records

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