Angelic Upstarts -- Last Night Another Soldier

Angelic Upstarts
Last Night Another Soldier
EMI, 1980

The A-side of this 1980 oi! scorcher, after a few dozen plays, remains one of my all-time favorite exemplars of the genre. Thematically, the title track is not especially unique. It is, in fact, fairly pedestrian fare, focusing as it does on the deceitful glorification of military life by those "not in line for the bullets." The tragedy, of course, is that every night "another child" wishing "to make his family proud" is lured into fighting "for Queen and country" by profit-hungry politicians promising a decidedly sterile, hyperbolic form of heroism in turn for relatively just martial action. When the nameless soldier sets foot on foreign soil, he realizes that "[i]t's not the same as fighting armies" or "looking for terrorists." His service is, in fact, the hostile invasion of a "country strange and foreign" in which "all the people resent him" and the young man "can't cope with his problems, all the fear and hatred." When the recruit dies, he becomes "[j]ust a number in the papers, another one of the innocent" rendered anonymous by his reduction to a mere part of the "facts and figures" politicians use when calculating their sundry military gains. Where the song really distinguishes itself is in the backing vocals. While pub-friendly sing-along choruses are nothing new for the Upstarts, Mensi's lead vocals are actually eclipsed by the sheer force of the backing chants, making for a really unique, fist-pumpingly energetic track.

The B-side, "The Man Who Came in From the Beano," is a satisfactory, though less memorable, sing-along. The highlight of the track, actually, may be the tongue-in-cheek reference to Sham 69's "Hurry Up, Harry" as the recording disintegrates into a festive wave of drunken-sounding woos.

Sobriquet Grade: 87 (B+).


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