2007 – Independent
Australian punk band The Go Set’s album A Journey For A Nation is an interesting blend of out and out left-wing punk mixed with a certain brand of Celtic nationalism full of roaring electric guitars, shouted vocals, and bag-pipe jigs. If you have ever listened to the likes of The Pogues or Enter The Haggis you might think you know what you’re in for here, but be warned A Journey For A Nation bears little resemblance to albums like If I Should Fall From Grace With God, indeed, it has much more in common with the likes of Billy Bragg.
The first two tracks Fortune and Gold and The Rising are quite fun with their chanting vocals that invite the listener to sing along and the bouncing rhythms make you want to tap your toes and jump around a little bit, but I must say that the production of the album leaves a little bit to be desired. I mean, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, it’s just that there does really appear to be the right amount of energy coming through on the tracks. Everything just feels that little bit subdued.
Really I think that this recording issue is the main problem with this album. All of the tracks are fine in themselves, nothing particularly interesting but rather good, but there is this pervasive sense of flatness that runs throughout the whole thing. I really would have liked to have heard a whole lot more energy than I was presented with here. I just feel that a punk album that lacks energy really can’t be a great album, as it lacks the very thing that gives punk its exciting essence.
The tracks themselves are fine, as I said before. Most of them are catchy enough and well written with catchy hooks and a practised sense of wild abandon. There are some stand outs , however, like the battle-chant cum drinking song of Bakery Hill which really rouses the listener’s inner unionist and Welcome To The World which tells its story wonderfully through thrashing guitars and barely on-key vocals. But, just as these tracks stand out as a cut above the rest there are a couple of cuts which are a bit disappointing such as Sheppards Town and Catching The Sun which are really just boring and somewhat poorly executed; they’re not horrible or anything like that, it’s just that if the record was playing I would probably skip them.
Another issue I have with this release is that there is a strong sense of the socialist/unionist about it (and I have no issue with that whatsoever), but, while I don’t doubt the band’s sincerity, there doesn’t really seem to be a lot of substance behind it. Listening to these songs I just don’t feel the passion and indignant rage that I get with someone like Billy Bragg or Pete Seeger and for me that is really a downside. I must mention on that note, however, that The Go Set’s cover of Billy Bragg’s Waiting For The Great Leap Forward is a truly magnificent version and really gets the fires of the soul aflame.
So, in conclusion I would say that The Go Set’s A Journey For A Nation is perfectly fine as an album. There’s nothing that hugely wrong with it, but, apart from a few highlights, there’s also nothing hugely right with it either. There’s some fun to be had and some boredom to be had, one is roused to action at points and mildly irritated at others. It really is just your stock standard musical release; nothing great, but easily listenable, and that’s really all that there is to say about.
Here is the band covering Billy Bragg on their album ‘A Journey For A Nation’