There’s something about the granite skies, and the relative isolation of Aberdeenshire that’s very conducive to post-punk. Hailing from the small town of Ellon, APB used their seclusion as an advantage and absorbed their natural surroundings to create a sound that was wholly unique. As one of the very first “crossover” artists (their 1981 single ‘I’d Like To Shoot You Down’ became a dance floor filler in New York) they were eventually usurped by those who followed and distilled their sound for mass consumption. The likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand all owe a debt to APB’s groove laden sound, and if you want to know where they learnt their chops, it’s all in APB’s discography, of which this reissue of Three takes pride of place.
Originally released in 2007, Three was the band’s first studio album in 21 years, and it found the band returning in some style. Although the band were critically-acclaimed and won all sorts of plaudits (John Peel was a big fan) their first two albums were criminally underrated and allowed to go out of print, so their third full length, Three (hence the title) felt they were flying their flag to teach the young pretenders a thing or two. Most notable about this album is the production, which places each musician prominently in the mix, and the result is a brash affair which feels as if the band are playing right in your living room. It’s a bold move, and one that constantly pays dividends as Iain Slater’s bass thumps your chest and leads a merry dance, around which drummer George Cheyne and guitarist Glenn Roberts swirl like a tempest.
Opening track ‘Ghost Of My Love’ (and, indeed, the whole album) is akin to a piece of modernist architecture; it’s all sharp angles that cut in at impossible degrees, yet it’s also strangely danceable. There’s a strong groove underpinning everything that APB do, and the bassline found on ‘Ghost Of My Love’ is pure reggae, yet when fused to the funky guitar it becomes fresh and new. However, APB are one band who refused to be pigeonholed, and just when you think you have them pegged, they shape shift like some alien life-force. It’s all done in the true spirit of post-punk, and any genre shackles have been shrugged off, and subsequently the light power pop of ‘Free Again’ nestles next to the darker ‘Love By The Seasons’ quite effortlessly.
I’m a big fan of three-piece bands, with no place to hide each band member must come to the fore, and its a modus that suits APB very well. They are a tight unit who lock in together like a series of interconnected cogs and they mix up rhythms like The Dave Brubeck Quartet (that is if, in a parallel universe, the Brubeck Quartet had been weaned on a diet of Public Image Limited and mescaline). Those unorthodox time signatures come to the fore on the aptly-titled ‘Shock You’, and the spiky and angular ‘Choose Your Exit’, yet they are employed without sacrificing the band’s melodic sensibility. It’s this focus on melody that stitches Three together, and makes for a consistently rewarding listen.
Liberation Hall are like an American version of Cherry Red Records, and have been releasing some notable titles of late. Three is an overdue reissue of a long forgotten classic, and hopefully it will shine a spotlight on APB and garner them some long overdue recognition.
- Three is released via Liberation Hall and is available now (from here).
- Ghost Of My Love
- Free Again
- Love By The Seasons
- Bad Tempered Spinster
- Shock You
- Choose Your Exit
- Rhyme Together
- House Of The Living Dead
- 24 Hour Century
- Death Of Rock N Roll