From the time of their debut album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained, the Mekons had turned into a slightly more accomplished post-punk band, who, like their pals in the Gang of Four, wielded trebly guitars and shouted vocals over semi-funky rhythms tracks. The songs lacked focus, but this was a bizarre record that, for all of its oddly ingratiating music, offered little insight as to who was making it. This remained true for a couple of years or so as the band (basically Langford, Greenhaigh, Kevin Lycett and whoever else they could rope into a session) made one exciting, enigmatic and extremely difficult-to-find record after another.
In 1985, after it seemed the earth had swallowed them whole, the Mekons released the startling Fear and Whiskey, a ragged country album influenced by the ghosts of Hank Williams and Gram Parsons that was unlike anything they'd ever recorded. Thus began the second coming of the Mekons, who finally began to reach an underground/alternative rock audience that had missed them the first time around. Soon they began touring more frequently, putting on clamorous, exciting shows. Talented new members jumped on board, like violinist Susie Honeyman and singer Sally Timms, and even former Pretty Thing Dick Taylor was a Mekon for a while; records started coming out with more frequency and, despite considerable trouble from major labels that sent them back to the indies, could be found in nearly any record store. From Fear and Whiskey through subsequent records including The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll, Curse of the Mekons, Retreat from Memphis and Me, they have continually reinvented themselves: sodden country band, wiseass folk-rock band, cranked-up guitar band, troublemaking punk band. Whatever the scenario, what has remained consistent throughout the Mekons' existence has been great, great music. ~ John Dougan, All Music Guide