What you have here is the product of over 25 years of punk rock in the city of Newport, Wales, which was once thought of as the UK's Seattle. Don't let that put you off this release, though, as all you really need to know is that (Dean) Beddis of the Cowboy Killers is back.
With a band consisting of former members of the aforementioned Cowboy Killers, plus the Abs, Dub War and following the departure of drummer The Rev (not to be confused with the American drummer of the same name), the Heretics, there is the promise of music with punch, taking both a lighthearted and serious look at the state of society whilst Beddis provides his trademark vocals throughout. For anyone unaware of how he sounds, well, it's probably best to say that he is the UK's answer to Jello Biafra, and this is without trying to copy that luminary of the punk world; it's just natural.
So, with an album title which mentions Newport and a number of songs that clearly reflect life in that rundown industrial city, Bad Sam do not stray too far from what they know, both in a day-to-day situation or in a musical sense.
Thunderous drums provided by The Rev (who left after the recording), buzzsaw guitar courtesy of Glover and effective bass work by Jim are all topped off by Beddis' vocals, which haven't lost any of their power or intensity over the years. Lyrically, the songs feature drugs (pros and cons thereof, but mainly the latter), religion, greed and those idiots you see in so many towns who walk around with an aggressive dog attached to a leash trying to look like they are the meanest people in town ("Dicks with Dogs").
From the first few spins of this album, the standout tracks are "Dicks with Dogs," "Christ Betrayed" and obviously "I Love The 'Port'," which has additional vocals provided by Benji Webb from Dub War and his brother Herbi. This latter song is like a musical trip around the haunts and landmarks of my hometown and is nostalgic for me as well as amusing and enjoyable.
This is a strong album with a good selection of songs and it will probably appeal to anyone who has heard Beddis before and enjoyed his delivery. There is some variety to the approach and it doesn't sound as if it's a bunch of people revisiting their past--more a case of showing what they are about now.
It's hard for me not to compare Bad Sam to the Cowboy Killers due to the presence of Beddis, but Bad Sam are quite clearly not producing the same frenetic, crazed hardcore that their predecessors did. I think the best way to describe them is that whilst the CKs were almost the closest thing the UK had to the Dead Kennedys, Bad Sam are more like the Jello Biafra/D.O.A. projects where things were slowed down a bit. I'd imagine, however, that Bad Sam live shows would still see Beddis all over the place and be hugely entertaining.
This is a limited-edition (200) self-released album, although it appears it should be more easily available in 2011 as Boss Tuneage are expected to issue it on CD and vinyl. If you want to get information on the band then check out their MySpace page.