Split records are certainly not rare in the world of punk, but there is something truly inspired about pairing loveable weirdos NOFX with the seemingly earnest Frank Turner. West Coast Vs. Wessex finds California’s NOFX covering five songs from Turner’s catalogue and the beloved English folk punk playing five from NOFX’s stash.
Fat Mike and his boys cover two of Turner’s best known songs, “Thatcher Fucked The Kids,” “Ballad Of Me And My Friends,” along with “Substitute,” “Worse Things Happen At Sea,” and the brilliant atheist anthem “Glory Hallelujah” and manage to completely remake every track thanks to distorted guitars and Mike’s remarkably endearing monotone whine.
In particular, the political “Thatcher Fucked The Kids” is reinvented into a stellar two-tone ska number complete with a faux British-accented backup vocal.
And it should come as no surprise to anybody who’s been following Turner’s career that he does a remarkable job covering NOFX, given his previous life fronting the hardcore band Million Dead. He also covered NOFX’s “Linoleum” several years ago on his rarities album The Second Three Years.
Turner flawlessly tackles “Scavenger Type,” “Bob,” “Eat The Meek,” “Perfect Government,” and a dark version of “Falling In Love,” (the only track here that doesn’t really live up to the rest). Like NOFX, Turner’s take on his tracks is impressively original, painting them with his own identity. “Bob,” for example, slowed down slightly and propped up with acoustic guitars, piano, subtle drumming, and harmonica is almost unrecognizable.
West Coast Vs. Wessex works, in part, because both NOFX and Turner have strong identifiable sounds that are hard to replicate without coming off as rip offs. So, handing over their songs to someone as strongly unique makes this split so wildly compelling.