“Fourth From The Last” has all the features of a great swing record, even if you don’t believe in the lyrical elements that come through sometimes.
Do you like swing music? Chances are that you aren’t paying a lot of attention to the lyrics anyways, and if you are, you’re not going to get hit with the religious tones some times. For instance, in “Open Minded” the song has a lot of horns, a lot of bass points, and vocals that you would expect from bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The band opens up the record as you would expect from the genre, and it is exactly like a lot of other openers that you will hear. Only there’s a bit of improvisational saxophone and trumpet coming through here. Around the 3 minute mark, you are taken back to the late 1960s with the way the music flows.
It’s in the hit single “The Devil is Bad” that you get that firm handshake from the religious sector, but if you allow the elements of the tracks to hit you, you will soon realize that The W’s were a lot more than just the sum of what Christian youth groups thought they were. They may not have garnered the amount of success that Five Iron Frenzy (sup Jeff), may have garnered, but they were able to hit hard within the confines of their short run. They put out two records before calling it a day, but I would say that “Fourth From The Last” is a stand out amidst all ska and third wave music. It hit right on time for the explosion of swing on modern rock radio, and yet it didn’t get the financial support that it should’ve received. Why? Well, they got hit with that religious backlash. Once you’re a “Christian” musician on any level, a lot of people scoff.
I would suggest that you listen to The W’s “Fourth From The Last” and rediscover some swing music. They really put on a great showcase with this record, and it’s an underrated gem in the genre. Swing is a great style of music, and if you’re into it, this should be firmly in your collection as a great example of the late 1990s ska and swing push, regardless of your belief system.