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Mogwai Rock Action album cover
3.52 | 69 ratings | 11 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sine Wave (4:55)
2. Take Me Somewhere Nice (6:57)
3. O I Sleep (0:55)
4. Dial: Revenge (3:28)
5. You Don't Know Jesus (8:02)
6. Robot Chant (1:03)
7. 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong (9:31)
8. Secret Pint (3:37)

Total Time: 38:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Stuart Braithwaite / guitar, vocals
- John Cummings / guitars, piano
- Barry Burns / guitar, keyboards
- Dominic Aitchison / bass
- Martin Bulloch / drums

- The Remote Viewer / programming & banjo (7)
- Gruff Rhys / vocals (4), backing vocals (7)
- David Pajo / backing vocals (2)
- Willie Campbell / backing vocals (7)
- Charlie Clark / backing vocals (7)
- Gary Lightbody / backing vocals (7)
- Michael Bradley / string & horn arrangements (2,7)
- David Fridmann / string arrangements (2,4,7), producer

Releases information

Artwork: Vella Design with Steve Gullick (photo)

CD Southpaw Recordings, Play It Again Sam (PIAS) PAWCD1, 946.0010.020 (2001 Europe)
CD Southpaw Recordings, Play It Again Sam (PIAS) Recordings PAWCD1 (2001 UK)
CD Matador OLE 490-2 (2001 US & Canada)
CD Play It Again Sam (PIAS) Recordings PIASV 010 CD, 946.0010.020 (2001 Europe)
CD Toy's Factory TFCK-87244 (2001 Japan)
CD Spunk, Play It Again Sam (PIAS) Recordings URA042 (2001 Australia)
CD Matador OLE 490-2V (2001 US & Canada) (promo)
CD Southpaw Recordings, Play It Again Sam (PIAS) PPAWCD1 (2001 Europe) (promo)
LP Southpaw Recordings PAWLP1 (2001 UK)
LP Matador OLE 490-1 (2001 US & Canada)
CD Soyuz Music, Play It Again Sam (PIAS) Recordings PIASV 010 CD, 946.0010.020 (2005 Russia)
LP Southpaw Recordings PAWLP1 (2012 UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MOGWAI Rock Action ratings distribution

(69 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MOGWAI Rock Action reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!!

Yet another post rock group, taking inspiration on the groundbreaking Tortoise and Constellation label GYBE! and DMST, Mogwai is just content on this release to follow suit in a poker game and not bring anything new or daring. Rather oddly though, there are sung songs in a rather off-voice that never seem to rise to the occasion of upping the ante for superior interest of the game. There are moments that are on the brink of ecstasy such as the fifth track You Don't Know Jesus (nothing that GYBE! has not achieved a few years before, though) and the tension is maintained for a few minutes to almost unbearable levels, but alas orgasm do not come. Vocals in the form of Nirvana's Cobain screams of despair or Water's yells in Careful With That Axe, would've achieved that poker hand they should've dared for!!! A huge opportunity wasted. The added banjo on the second last track is worthy of note and worth a smirk too!

Most likely by the end of the night and by not taking any risks, Mogwai will certainly not come up on the losing end of the scale, but they will not astound or blind you with their rather pale brilliance. Interesting but simply getting lost in the mass of post-rock albums. Certainly worth a spin if you enjoy post-rock but not a royal flush or even a full house!

Review by Jimbo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have intentionally avoided reviewing post-rock albums so far, because while most bands do have their own signature sound, there are also many striking similarities between the bands, so one usually ends up saying the same things for every album. I'll try to avoid that, if possible.

Well, first of all, Mogwai is one of the most depressing bands I've ever heard, and I mean it too. The atmospheres and textures are simply so somber and dark, that at times they even challenge Univers Zero. Fortunately for me, I'm rather mentally sane, so this album doesn't affect me too much. For those wanting to get more familiar with this genre, Mogwai is a good choice, as they mostly concentrate on shorter, structurally pretty simple, melody-based tracks, and yet they often manage to have the same "epic" feel that bands like GY!BE are so well known for.

The second track Take Me Somewhere Nice is a brilliant example of that. It starts with a slow, dark, but still very catchy guitar riff, but before too long other instruments enter the track as well. The riff is actually repeated over and over again during the song, but it's the gloomy keyboards and the amazing string arrangements that really carry this song forward. There's just so much depth in there, that I usually end up in a hypnotic state. Especially in this song, there's a strong resemblance to movie soundtrack music. At this point, things were looking rather good.

However, while I still thoroughly enjoy Dial: Revenge, it's You Don't Know Jesus where things start to go wrong. This instrumental track is actually not half bad at first, but it carries one of the fundamental flaws of this genre - it's way too long. It's also such a typical post-rock track, trying to build up a huge climax, but it's just so predictable that it quite frankly annoys me. It gets old pretty fast. The vocals on this album are mostly fine, but a bit too melodramatic for my taste...

Rock Action is in a way a perfect example of the genre. It manages to combine all the good and not-so-good things about post-rock. It is by all means emotionally moving, very atmospheric, mostly quite intense experience, and yet at the same time, too predictable and just a tiny bit self-indulgent.

All things considered, this is pretty good stuff, nothing exceptional, but fans of the genre will be pleased. If you're not a fan (yet?), you're probably better off starting with Happy Songs For Happy People.

Review by Philo
4 stars This is an odd album, it's seriously eclectic and umbrellas all the tags, genres whatever that one can put on the Scottish outfit. It's actually quite a miserable album, but certainly the misery gets so mierable that it becomes comfortable, comfortable while locked into its own world, a world layered with a host of instruments becoming intense all the while, and while there is a barage of instrumentation it is that of the sweet toned guitar which always shines through for me. It's a slow builder. Rock Action sounds better to me now then it did five years ago, back then I craved an urgency, an aggression in music. I liked the concept of Mogwai but felt a million miles from the emotion they conveyed. I just didn't want it. Now? Well I've grown into the band, through constant plays and patience. The structures are incredible, rich and volumous. The subtle vocals which accompanied some of the parts were, to me, in perfect harmony with the tone and mood the band create. Sometimes, with some similar contemporary rock music acts of today, there can be a tendency to overstress and be too literal (and plain dumb) with regard vocal parts, words, lyrics. Here the lyrics creep in and become the very perfect and sympathetic line to merge with the sound, just to finish if off. Just like with "Take Me Somewhere Nice" and "Dial: Revenge". But then Mogwai and their like are just that much more orchestral, creative and thoughtful than a wave of a million other indie rock bands. Mogwai probably are spun from the one time indie circus but have progressed beyond that border, thankfully. Post rock? Lets forget that term, it's futile. Moving along then. Mogwai get as gritty as they can here with "You Don't Know Jesus" and while not as blistering violent as anything on the Young Team debut it is that bit more enjoyable. Less forced but nevertheless forceful, better even. It's as near to rock action as Mogwai get here, "2 Rights Make 1 Wrong" is decent too in the guitar department, in fact every department. This album is a real grower. Having "Sine Wave" as the album opener had put me off for a long while, but once the album gets going it does truly take off, it can veer toward the avant garde noise a little ("Robot Chant" etc) but that never gets in the way of the albums strength, because when Rock Action is good it's very good.
Review by Prog-jester
2 stars Nah, they even try to sing (guest appearences). This adds nothing honestly.

This is rather a EP – 38 minutes long, with usual guitar-driven mellow tracks (“Take me somewhere nice”, “2 rights make 1 wrong”, “You don’t know Jesus”), interludes (“O I Sleep” etc) and even a true song sung on an unknown (to me) language (“Dial:Revenge”) – pretty nice one I must admit. But most of the time I felt bored more as ever. I presume MOGWAI are just not my cup of tea in Post-Rock (since I enjoy the genre very much), like RUSH in Prog or RADIOHEAD in Modern Rock. No hate or anything of that kind (I even like some tracks from above-mentioned bands), but they just didn’t click on me THAT much as they do with others.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rock Action is the third studio album from experimental rock act Mogwai. I havenīt been really satisfied by their first two album Young Team (1997) and Come on Die Young (1999) even though they are both high quality products. I was just never moved by the music and as a consequence the repetitive and mostly intrumental post rock style on the two first albums felt long drawn and a bit dull to me. Iīm told that Rock Action is Mogwaiīs most accessible album, and judging from the three first albums from the band I can say yes to that statement. Itīs also the most exciting release out of the first three IMO.

The music is still build around very few ideas and riffs and overall the songs are very repetitive. This time around the songs are not as stripped down as it was the case on the previous album Come on Die Young though. Mogwai have added keyboards and about half of the songs have mellow vocals which really helps make the album more varied and accessible. At least thatīs how I feel about it. The album is only 38:28 minutes long which is also a good idea IMO. Iīm not sure this kind of music could entertain me for 70 minutes without boring me at some point. One of the things that I also enjoy about Rock Action is the multilayered soundscape in some songs. Almost symphonic at times. Iīve been a bit annoyed of the sparse use of vocals on the two previous albums, but my favorites on Rock Action are actually the two mostly instrumental songs You Donīt Know Jesus and 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong. I also enjoy the beautiful Dial: Revenge and the dark and haunting Secret Pint while my least favorite is probably Take Me Somewhere Nice. The album is best understood if you listen to it in succesion IMO and not just pick out individual tracks. Thereīs something really positive about the feeling I get after each listen that is really great. The hardcore post rock fans might find this one a bit too accessible but for me who is not used to listening to the genre thatīs the beauty of the album.

The musicianship is excellent and I really think Mogway has grown considerably as composers since Come on Die young.

The production is very pleasant. Warm but still sharp when the music needs it.

Itīs an album that has grown on me, so if I had chosen to review it after only a few listens I would have given it 3 stars. After many listens I began to feel moved by the music and itīs as if the addition of keyboards, and the more varied expression in the music because of the added vocals, really makes for a good listen and an excellent album. It might be a small 4 star rating but a 4 star rating it is. I hope this positive development in Mogwaiīs music continues on their later albums. Iīll be looking forward to listening to and reviewing them now and that was not the feeling I had after listening to Come on Die Young.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Third album of this Scottish post-rock band is something between atmospheric sound of Nordic post-rock bands, and almost metal energy of their US colleagues. More melodic, more acoustic, with warmer sound. Sad, in moments even dark, but according to genre rules - repetitive and not too complex.

Mogwai sometimes is mentioned as post-rock one of greatest band's, I can't understand why. They really have their own niche between other post-rock bands, with more melodic, more mellow and warmer sound, but the difference is not so big to see them in front of all genre.

There on this album they are adding some vocals to their mostly instrumental music, what makes the music a bit more different. Possibly, they stepped far from post-rock standard there, but the destination is Brit-pop, so the question is how good is this trend.

In all, some positive side of this work is it is a bit different from usual post-rock album. But this difference is far not enough to make it great album. Should be attractive for genre fans though.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Mogwai must have realised they'd taken their predominantly instrumental and extremely sparse sound as far as it could go on Come On Die Young, because Rock Action sees them refreshing and evolving their sound extensively. The compositions presented are much more lush and musically embellished, vocals play a more prominent role, and the reliance on sampled dialogue to establish atmosphere is greatly diminished. The end result is an album which is unmistakably Mogwai but at the same time establishes an entirely new phase in their sound. Post-rock fans who were turned off by earlier Mogwai works but think they might enjoy a less sparse version of the Mogwai sound could enjoy themselves here.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I must confess that I'm quite new to the whole "post-rock" thing, but Godspeed You Black Emperor! records I was lucky enough to become familiar with made me stunned, to say the least. I've never in my life heard the music so monotonous, repetive and minimalist that can be so fascinating, addic ... (read more)

Report this review (#58061) | Posted by | Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let's face it. When Mogwai's 'Young Team' came out, that was it. The final word on the 'quiet/loud moody instrumental indie rock' sound. They had done it. What does a band do then? Where do they take their music? While they were trying to figure that out, Godspeed You Black Emperor stepped in and ... (read more)

Report this review (#44804) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Rock Action is an improvement in song writing and overall sound from Mogwai's previous release. While not the most incredible release, Rock Action shows a lot of potential for these Scottish lads. Sine Wave could easily have been a remix of "A Warm Place" by Nine Inch Nails but it holds on it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#39238) | Posted by Spanky | Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars MOGWAI's watershed disc. No one but no one should have a problem with anything here. Their third release, the ironically titled "Rock Action" is by no means a hard rock disc. MOGWAI goes in a new direction after two LPs and a dozen EPS. They bring in banjo, electronics, keyboards, and lots ... (read more)

Report this review (#35032) | Posted by BrainRock Ben | Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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