Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 2005.
The self-titled debut from The Dead 60s features songs that initially created a stir in England when they were released as singles on an indie label. Anglofiles who recall a similar scenario with The Specials, The Buzzcocks, and The Clash will be glad to find The Dead 60s carrying on the spirit of those bands. Each of the 13 tracks is delivered with intensity and street credibility, whether it’s punk or ska.
“Riot Radio,” the quartet’s first big UK hit, immediately casts singer-guitarist Matt McManamon as a rebel in the style of Joe Strummer. McManamon’s emotionally charged vocals and frenetic strumming continually spark The Dead 60s, although bassist Charlie Turner, guitarist-organist Ben Gordon, and drummer Bryan Johnson play pivotal roles as well. Turner kicks off “Nowhere,” a grim look at factory life, and propels the hard-hitting “The Last Resort.” On the high speed punk track, “Horizontal,” McManamon sneers, “I guess I’m pretty bored with the present day,” while on “Nationwide,” the band uses a soulful ska arrangement in its criticism of an oppressive government.