Punk News Reviews

Album review: Ruts DC are reinvigorated with ‘ElectrAcoustic Volume 3’

A stunning new song joins older classics as Ruts DC get ready for their first ElectrAcoustic full tour!

It’s undeniable that Ruts DC are one of the best live bands of the last 45 years – their strong lyrics and music a constant and enduring source of their popularity. Building upon the legacy begun by Malcolm Owen, Paul Fox, David Ruffy and John ‘Segs’ Jennings back in late 1970s West London, only Segs and Ruffy are still with us from the original Ruts, yet the presence of the late Owen and Foxy remain within each album they release.

A trio for many years now, with Leigh Heggarty on guitar; from their first acoustic gig at the much missed 12 Bar Club in Central London back in February of 2014, their stripped-down sets alongside their full-blown electric performances have become a highly anticipated event at Rebellion Festival every year. Now Ruts DC are set to take their acoustic show on the road for a full UK tour in July to celebrate the release of ‘ElectrAcoustic Vol: 3’.

“I think we’d definitely gained a lot of confidence from the fantastic and surprisingly raucous reception to our acoustic sets at Rebellion Festival,” admits bassist and vocalist Segs. “The first question regarding doing a third volume though was ‘what songs are we going to do? Which ones haven’t we done yet?’ But we quickly had a short list of 36 songs that we thought might work.”

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Ruts DC acoustic set - Rebellion Festival 2023 - photo by Ruth Rae

Honing the list down to twelve choice songs, ‘ElectrAcoustic Vol: 3’ features cuts from The Ruts glory days alongside tracks from 2016’s radiant return with the ‘Music Must Destroy’ album and 2022’s incendiary ‘Counterculture?’ album, plus for the first time in the series, we’re treated to a brand new song with ‘Bound In Blood’.

Ruts DC complete the trilogy of their ‘ElectrAcoustic’ series with volume 3, released via Sosumi Recordings. Recorded once again at Perry Vale Studios, South London, with Jessica Corcoran and mixed and mastered by Greg ‘Wizard’ Fleming at Jamm Studios, Brixton, ‘ElectrAcoustic Vol: 3’ is another deep dive into the vast musical pool that encompasses both Ruts DC and The Ruts. 

Lively opener ‘Vox Teardrop‘ starts the album off swimmingly, with those superb electric guitar flourishes Leigh makes a speciality of his, while Segs rocks out on the vocals and Ruffy expressively beats the time. ‘Dope For Guns‘, backed by those distinctive bass runs, is interwoven with layers of guitars and vocal harmonies to create an inspiring rendition of this cracker from The Ruts first album.

A cover of the Kevin Coyne song ‘Formula Eyes‘ was originally released as the B-side to Ruts DC’s 1981 single ‘Different View‘. Ruffy, Segs and Foxy were all part of Coyne’s band for the first disc of his double album ‘Sanity Stomp‘, from which this track is taken. The pain that addiction causes, including the untimely death of The Ruts singer Malcolm Owen, is perfectly expressed.

A favourite of mine from their previous studio album ‘Counterculture?‘, ‘Too Much‘ went down so well acoustically at Rebellion last summer, they just HAD to include it! An ode to Malcolm and Foxy, the added lyrics “What’s your name, was it Virginia Plain?” at the end of the song give a respectful nod to Roxy Music, who influenced many early British Punk bands. ‘Secret Soldiers‘ from 1980’s compilation album ‘Grin And Bear It‘ pogos along at pace. “Who’s gonna rule when the government fall?” as the political landscape slides backwards towards the 1930s. The urgency is real.

Ruffy and Segs, Ruts DC acoustic set - Rebellion Festival 2023 - photo by Ruth Rae

The song ‘Pretty Lunatics‘ always lent itself to acoustic performance, but this version has an ethereal grace to it, stripped back to the absolute basics of Spanish guitar, voice and minimal percussion. Shows how strong a track it truly is. In ‘Jah War‘ 24, the echoes of that brutal day in 1979 resonate musically through to current times, where we are indeed still fighting against bigotry and violence. Evoking the horror of the police raid that left an innocent man, Clarence Baker, manager of Reggae band Misty in Roots in a coma for 5 months, Ruts DC have worked their magic on this acoustic version of a Ruts classic. Another song which easily slots into acoustic playback, ‘Tears On Fire‘ from ‘Music Must Destroy‘, with its distinctive guitar riff gets a funky makeover.

Of new brand song ‘Bound In Blood‘, Segs explains “I’d started the song at home with just acoustic bass and vocals with a view to it being a full band production but as we started working it through, it seemed like a real contender for this album, it just kinda fitted in. Now it seems to be everyone’s favourite. Acoustic versions of full band songs are one thing, but starting a song acoustically sets up a whole different intention. ‘In A Rut’ was actually like that and ‘Bound In Blood’ is the same so it all makes sense really.” It’s more than worthy of inclusion in this album – a powerful and beautiful song which deserves to be a single in its own right.

A surprising addition is ‘Human Punk‘, a song the band have declined to play for decades. It gets a well deserved revival here and sounds fantastic, Segs’ voice chanelling Malcolm’s charged vocals while Ruffy plays the complex rhythms with consummate professionalism.

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Three additional songs were recorded for the extended CD release; ‘Whatever We Do‘ carrying as much meaning now as it did in 1982, with the guys proving they can do Dub Reggae equally well here as they do in full electric format. Punk banger ‘Criminal Minds‘ loses none of its original fire acoustically – the guitar work here is exceptional – this is one to look out for live! In a stroke of sheer genius,  ‘Society‘ is the last (and for me the best) song of the album – it put a massive smile on my face as I heard it, which stayed there the rest of the day! If Ruts DC end their tour sets with this it’ll definitely raise the roof.

Segs concludes “In general, though, all three of these albums are about re-interpreting our songs in a different format. The messages remain the same and, in most cases, they become even more intense.”

“The precision here is from practice. From playing. Honed instinct. The seventh sense understanding that a great band has. Forged and tempered over time. The road. The studio. Life. Death. What you are holding in your hand is pure, uncut, high grade Ruts DC. Do not think it is a record to be played quietly. Play it loud for the same reasons that it was recorded. Because it matters. Melody, ideals, rhythm and rights. The word is the weapon. Still. People Unite.” – Graham Erickson (artist and writer, who made the sleeve notes for Ruts DC’s ‘Counterculture?‘ album)

Ruts DC are:
Segs Jennings – lead vocals/acoustic guitar/acoustic bass
David Ruffy – drums/percussion/vocals
Leigh Heggarty – acoustic guitar/electric guitar/backing vocals

Catch the two set Ruts DC ElectrAcoustic tour at a town near you! Tickets available with no additional fees direct from Ruts DC: HERE

Ruts DC ElectrAcoustic tour July 2024

Released on 5th July 2024, 0rder your copy of ‘ElectrAcoustic Volume 3’ on turquoise vinyl, extended CD or 13 track download: HERE

Ruts DC ElectrAcoustic Vol 3 merch

Main Photo Credit: TINA KORHONEN

  1. Vox Teardrop
  2. Dope For Guns
  3. Formula Eyes
  4. Too Much
  5. Secret Soldiers
  6. Pretty Lunatics
  7. Jah War
  8. Tears On Fire
  9. Bound In Blood
  10. Human Punk
  11. Whatever We Do
  12. Criminal Minds
  13. Society
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