Blaggers I.T.A., Bad Karma (Parlophone) by Martin Bate


Blaggers I.T.A. are a UK band that last year were being splashed all over the pages of the British music press, being an anti-fascist band before the cause was a compulsory fashion statement. They now release their major-label debut, an album which outperforms their debut and stands favorably alongside any of the other Brit-pop albums that have been raved about this year, and, yet, barely a whisper is heard. Why is this ?

Well, at the height of the hype, an after-show discussion over a few drinks between lead Blagger Matty and a Melody Maker journalist ended up with the journalist receiving a kicking after making several disparaging comments to Matty's face. The resultant furor has resulted in the band being given an unofficial cold shoulder.

Now, I am in no way saying that what Matty did was admirable, but the hypocrisy displayed in crucifying a band for displaying the same tendencies they seem only too happy to encourage in Oasis, and an act of violence they would have cheered from the roof-tops had it been perpetrated against an insulting *tabloid* journalist rather than 'one of them', is laughable. Seems you can talk about how hard you are till the cows come home as long as you don't actually *do* anything.

Blaggers I.T.A. are deeply political - they are affiliated with the fight-fire-with-fire Anti Fascist Action organization - but the politics here go past the familiar 'racism is bad' chant that we all know, and dig a little deeper into UK and world politics. This is done with an eloquence approaching that of the Manic Street Preachers, although with a good deal more clarity.

Musically, they are like all your favourite current Brit-Pop bands rolled into one (which is what makes the press snub all the more apparent) - they have Oasis' cool-hooligan swagger and pop-suss combined with a punk attack that will have the New Wave of New Wave bands giving up and going home and fans of The Clash getting excited. On top of all this a samples-and-rap element that the 94-model Pop Will Eat Itself would (and *do*) thoroughly approve of.

Sure, its not all perfect. Its often all too easy for the message to get lost in Matty's sneer and snarl and co-hort Christy's speed-fire rap but the adrenaline rush makes up for this.

The music borrows freely from other sources, but the samples and vocals give the album an unmistakeable identity of its own. Everything from the 90-mph ram-raid of "Stresss" with its 70s-cop-show trumpets to the mid-pace soaring guitar-pop of "Hate Generator" reeks of something that, under normal circumstances, the UK press would be getting excited about.

In the absence of that support then.....the hype starts here.

- Martin Bate

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