Home Read Classic Album Review: The Libertines | Up the Bracket

Classic Album Review: The Libertines | Up the Bracket

The London upstarts aim to pick up The Clash's torch on their much-hyped debut.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The cover of The Libertines’ debut album, with its silhouetted line of riot police, reminds you a little of an old Clash record. Supposedly that’s no coincidence — word is former Clash guitarist Mick Jones, who produced Up The Bracket, insisted on the cover art, presumably as a way of passing the punk torch to these rising-star Londoners.

Doubtless The Libertines were suitably chuffed — but after sampling Up The Bracket, it’s tough not to feel Jonesy might have been overstating things just a tad. Granted, the snarling grit and rebellious passion of Joe Strummer and co. are evident in tracks like the title cut, Horrorshow and Tell The King, while the laissez-faire confidence and ramshackle adventurousness that run throughout the album are somewhat reminiscent of latter-day Clash (though frankly, at least one of the band’s two singer-guitarists sounds far more like The KinksRay Davies than he does Joe or Mick).

Ultimately, though, The Libertines might have less in common with the punk gods of London Calling than they do with the rock stars of New York’s Strokes. Thanks to their sloppy-choppy guitars, two-step punk beats, lazy-hazy vocals and crash-bash drums — not to mention their unkempt looks and perfectly tousled hair — these blokes are likely destined to rule the garage-rock ranks this year just as Julian Casablancas and his pals did last year. Whether anybody wants to borrow their cover art a generation from now remains to be seen.