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The Bionic Rats... Should Be Seen and Not Heard

The Bionic Rats... Should Be Seen and Not Heard

The Bionic Rats... Should Be Seen and Not Heard

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Alongside their well established capacity to 'raise the house' in live gigs, this album will further enhance their burgeoning reputation


For a host of practical reasons every country has its quota of top notch reggae bands that are forced to confine their talents to the home market. Ireland is no exception. Foremost in this category are Dublin’s Bionic Rats, who – to much acclaim - have just released their second album.

Bionic RatsOpening in a tip-toe type technique the album tears into ‘It Won’t Last’, as it encourages the ska-stompers to sidestep ruinous regrets and remorse. Next up ‘The Monkey Factor’ brings an oriental musical influence to bear on the plight of those whose exposure is increased the higher they climb. Reading between the lines, this track may be described as a thinly veiled attack on British and Irish televison’s most popular programme – the star-searching ‘The X Factor’. Maintaining the "jump up" ska effect ‘Brand New Geansai’ (i.e. translated ‘Brand New Jumper’) precedes ‘Dear John’ – warning against Europe’s rising recession-fuelled racism, which the band’s Nigerian sax player had first-hand experience of. Continuing the confrontation with their enemies, the ‘NMEz’ track recalls the old Chinese proverb, that you should "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer". The following pacey ‘Dicky Donk Fonk’ track challenges vocalist Derek Clabby to reveal the range of his pitch – a challenge he is well capable of rising to throughout the album, with the help of full-blooded brass, flute, melodica, keys, guitars and  supporting vocals in tow.

Thereafter the title track ‘.. Seen & Not Heard’, lends an acoustic vibe, alongside piano accompaniment, to the apt adage the "actions speak louder than words". Here the Rats advise that Christians should be seen and not heard. One might quibble about the wisdom of confining this good advice to Christians, but we’ll live on in hope! Hence it’s apt to follow it with the bouncy cum echo-effected ‘It’s Just A Fantasy’, before the album starts its wind down with a bass driven melange of musical influences in ‘Dig Da Dub Fonk’ before proceeding to the the final bonus track, the welcome ‘Monkey Dub\Mr. Upfull Mix’

From humble origins, which have seen the Bionic Rats play support to legendary luminaries like Madness, Lee Perry, Horace Andy, Bad Manners, Israel Vibration and Johnny Clarke, this album should see the group expand their audience and (hopefully) their horizons. Put in the hands of a well-resourced professional producer they could do some serious damage on the sales front! Whatever the game-plan, alongside their well established capacity to ‘raise the house’ in live gigs, this album will further enhance their burgeoning reputation.

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