Another Man’s Ground The Young’Uns Planet
Aussie ensemble the Spooky Men’s Chorale has cast a spell over UK audiences in recent years with the unusual combination of consummate harmony singing and sharp SNAG-baiting satire. Currently, an equally accomplished and acclaimed a cappella act from northern England is attempting to follow suit in reverse with a contrastingly sombre and socially conscious repertoire.
The Young’Uns’ fourth album is tantamount to a celebration of British working class heroes past and present. Another Man’s Ground includes classics from the pens of those masters of political balladry and commentary, Billy Bragg and Ewan MacColl.
It’s a tribute to the Young’Uns’ stirring threepart harmony singing and broad Stockton accents that their renditions of Between the Wars and School Days Over are as potent as the original recordings of 30 and 50 years ago.
Not that resident composer Sean Cooney’s songs relating to local issues, such as You Won’t Find Me on Benefits Street, pull any punches: “Me grandad fought the fascists / Me father fought for a job / So I’ll fight anyone who tries / to stigmatise and fob”.
Moving far away from Teesside, the songsmith hits another bullseye with a ballad about the cold-blooded slaying of a Pakistani girl two years ago by her own flesh and blood: “When they came to the High Court her family were there / And sticks, stones and bricks flew through the air / And the streets of Lahore stood silent and mean /And smiled as they murdered Farzana Parveen”.
No less poignant are two songs based on World War I letters. Another worthy ode salutes the sadly neglected English humanitarian Tom Paine.