Though rarely in the spotlight Glen Matlock has an eclectic and long running musical history. He has been described as the Pete Best of Punk (because he left the Sex Pistols on the cusp of their breakthrough) but he’s more a Johnny Marr/Jeff Beck figure; early fame followed by a long running career as a ‘guitar for hire’ bringing key ingredients to other people’s music.
In his early days as bass player in the Sex Pistols he co -wrote Anarchy in the UK, God save the Queen and Pretty Vacant. Malcolm McLaren’s spin – that Matlock had been sacked for liking the Beatles and being too musical – was more myth than reality (it was probably the more banal ‘personality/musical differences) but there was a kernel of truth in Matlock being the band member with a more melodic take on what Punk could be.
After leaving he then formed Rich Kids (with Midge Ure) and went on to write and perform with Iggy Pop.Subsequent years have seen him play with Primal Scream and more recently he has become the touring bass player for Blondie, with whom he’s down to appear on a new studio album.
He’s released several studio albums and his last release 2018’s Good to Go featured a shift to an Americana-style sound in his music rather than the iconic punk that made him famous.
You can hear elements of all those influences in Consequences Coming. It’s an up tempo and energetic album that has the sound of a seasoned musician who likes the discipline and energy of playing live.
Matlock has said in interviews that his initial motivation for this album and the lyrical inspiration for several tracks on it was driven by a sense of anger, bewilderment and frustration with modern politics and politicians –
“It was written over the last year-and-a-half, two years, through the whole Brexit debacle that's been going on ...I think there are some consequences coming for the people who've been representing us... I think they've made a right cock-up of things, and I'd like to see their heads – metaphorically – on sticks."
Hence the album’s title, Consequences Coming, and first single, Head on a Stick.
It’s a solid rock orientated album with a clear mission to grab your attention and keep moving. Head on a Stick has anthemic chord progressions, not dissimilar to a cranked up Dear Prudence by the Beatles. A raucous blast with a deceptively catchy chorus, it distils the feel of the album which hits the ground running and stays there.
There’s a shiny twistiness in the guitar playing that bends more toward country, blues and rockabilly, flourishes of nu-wave or pop hooks are woven into three and half minute blasts of rock. In Magic Carpet Ride, slide guitar, hand claps and a country rock groove come to the fore, overlaid with a rolling lyric and singalong chorus of:
“Nowhere to Run, nowhere to hide, caught up in a crazy kind of magic carpet ride”
It’s one of the most radio-friendly tracks on the album while still commenting on the state of the world. Here Matlock adopts a more relaxed and detached stance, his voice verging on an amused drawl – more laughing at the absurdity than raging against the machine.
A cover of KD Lang’s Constant Craving reinforces the feeling that the vibe Matlock is drawing on is more Arizona Roadhouse than New York loft and shows he can deliver songs at a slower tempo, but it’s the tight rock tunes with which he is most comfortable, and which make up much of the album.
Reminiscent of punk in the use of ‘sing along’ backing vocals and lyrics fuelled by anger, it’s a solid album of Rebellion rock from one of the genre’s elder statesmen. What has stayed through his career is an ability to meld a strong melodic sensibility with crunching guitars that don’t overstay their welcome and, on that score, it doesn’t disappoint.
Consequences Coming is available for pre-order ahead of its release date on 27 April at glenmatlock.co.uk