Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Ex ‎– "Too Many Cowboys" (Ron Johnson Records ‎– ZRON 25) 1987



Dunno about Too Many Cowboys for a title? How about Too Many Tracks?
Nothing particularly ground breaking, music wise on this long collection of live and studio cuts, from Ex Van Crass. It sounds like The Ex gave a pretty highly charged Live performance,which is probably where they are the most relevant; otherwise its just standard,and very dated ,mid-eighties protest punk. Time hasn't been as kind to this sort of soapbox punk,but it stubbornly refuses to go away, unlike most of the other groups on the Ron Johnson roster, who nearly without exception broke up in or around 1988. But the music of the quirkier side of the labels output seems far fresher and relevant than The Ex's contributions;and it's The Ex who are still around today.No doubt sounding exactly the same, despite the members pushing sixty years of age.
This is no bad thing?

Tracklist:

1 Red & Black 5:47
2 White Shirts 3:53
3 Adversity 0:30
4 People Again 4:12
5 Knock 2:46
6 Hands Up, You're Free 3:06
7 Ignorance 2:54
8 Butter Or Bombs 4:11
9 Dumbo 3:18
10 How Can One Sell The Air 5:46
11 Business As Usual 5:56
12 Olympigs 4:19
13 Choice 2:58
14 A Job / Stupid 2:40
15 Oops 6:32
16 No Fear 5:04
17 Vivisection 1:19
18 A Piece Of Paper 6:37
19 They Shall Not Pass 3:28


8 comments:

fransdewaard.com said...

It is a bit odd to say 'no doubt' the sound the same; you could have investigated this? in my humble opinion The Ex is one of the few punk bands that actually don't want to sound the same all the time, so over the years they worked with improvisers, sound artists and Ethiopian musicians, ranging from rock to punk rock to free jazz. yes, in the mid 80s they were sometimes on that soapbox too much, but they got off and found new ways. Mention me any other punk band that did that?
best
Frans de Waard

Jonny Zchivago said...

I expected some Ex defense from a dutch person, and why not?
I didn't investigate the possiblity, although i knew they did some collab's with Sonic Youth,and others; but any slim chance of listening to pop politics in this time of popular politics put me off....later maybe.
You mean to say The Ex went eclectic, including the bourgeois' fav World Music route? Oh Dear!
It all depends on your definition of what bands are 'punk' i suppose.
If you're talking about straight ahead Punk Rock, no-one got adventurous musically.This is why Post-Punk happened, which to us kids WAS punk; and nearly everyone involved in that era went very experimental. A good bridging band example of this must be Alternative TV? Granted no-one stuck around for 40 years like the Ex,we wouldn't want that would we?
You know what Frans....I think i'm getting sick of music.....i need a holiday. So everyone is getting a slagging recently. Sorry The Ex.
cheers,
JZ

fransdewaard.com said...

I don't mean to say anything really, other than one could first investigate something before writing. is there a 'bourgeois' fav World Music route'? I don't know. Are The Ex on that route? I don't know either. Their work with Getatchew Mekuria was pretty wild, but world music? Check it out. Maybe the Ex became much more post-punk than punk and we never realized? I am not defending them actually. I ran into my own problem with them when I wrote something their guitarist thought wasn't right.
and maybe you need a holiday. have fun and refresh

badgerstump said...

I totally agree with Frans. The Ex were never a "one message" outfit and actually stand out as an example of how to survive and continue to make a difference.

I also totally agree with you Mr Z ... you need to purge the cynicism batteries :)

badgerstump said...

... and as an afterthought that should have been a forethought ...

these people have been doing DIY and refusing to DIE for a very long time whilst still being creative and creating supportive structures within their local community and across other communities.

... if that's not the point of DIY then what is?

Jonny Zchivago said...

Yep DIY, thats why they are on here.....but not above criticism.If i don't like a record i'm not gonna say its great am I?...unlike every reviewer in modern day music mags.

I like my fully charged cynicism batteries(I am a Leicester Fan remember?).....i need to recharge my listening to music batteries by not listening to music for a few weeks....then i might like "Too Many Cowboys" by the Ex.

QMA said...

Have to jump on the commenters' bandwagon. Ex have only gotten better and far more interesting over the years.
Blueprints was probably their best of the period you seem to be slagging, and 'Joggers' their release after Cowboys closed the door to this period completely.

It's tough when bands last more than 2-3 albums and actually ask something of their listeners huh?

J.H.M. said...

Yeah, I'm going to say I agree that The Ex only got more intriguing over time, and I certainly wouldn't call it a bourgeois form of experimentalism, but rather the sort of all-embracing autodidactic restlessness I think one should *expect* of politically-charged punk musicians but all too often is substituted for with self-imitation. As you say, post-punk was punk. The Ex just took a few years to fully internalise that fact, maybe because it took them about that long to get bored of themselves. (Or maybe because they were afraid The Rondos would murder them, which I could sympathise with.)