February 1983 Review by Dave Dickson
THERE’S A certain unsettling feeling of time-shift watching Le Mat onstage. This five-piece band, hailing from Southend and Brighton, emerge attired like overgrown rejects for the part of the Artful Dodger, renegades from the 19th century calculatedly unkempt yet casual. But the music, and that after all is what we’re here for, is liable to disturb and possibly unnerve the critics even more.
Rock’n’ roll as far as the papers are concerned can be divided into neat little categories: You’re a punk band; you’re an OI! band; you’re an HM band … the list is carefully defined and rigorously enforced by the wordsmiths. And then along come Le Mat and throw all these preconceived pigeon-holers into confusion.
What the band play is a mixture of traditional folk and driving rock with just a little bit of everything else thrown in for good measure. The result could be some horrendous mish-mash of disjointed and aimless noise, but it isn’t. It works, and it works marvelously well, skipping lightly over the fences that seek to divide us, and ultimately offering us music, pure and simple.
But is it HM? Does it belong in Kerrang! Well, far be it from me to start labeling them, but one of Le Mat’s major influences is Alice Cooper, hence their version of ‘Sunarise’, the old Rolf Harris standard, first covered by Alice on ‘Love It To Death’. And their own material, the swirling, majestic ‘Waltz Of The Fool’. ‘Of Cats And Fiddles’ and the haunting ‘In The Room’, for instance, should convince any doubting readers of their prowess, particularly in view of Pete Helmer’s guitar runs which seem to nod agreeably in the direction of Mick Ronson, and the unremitting thump of drummer Say’s pounding beat.
Le Mat are advancing something for everyone and the opportunity should he grasped with all haste.