OOR (Dutch national music magazine)
For 30 years GW (Goat-Woolly) Sok was the singer of The Ex—the word “front man” would nullify the collective nature of this former squatters’ band. That was long enough a period to fill a book of no less than 378 pages with his lyrics, although it also contains some of his post-Ex work. And there are also a few forewords / introductions, of course. British punk-ideologist and ex-Membrane John Robb positions the work of The Ex and the lyrics of Sok in the troubled climate of the eighties (he saw the band at that time in the drafty squat circuit) and the present years. Sok (who’s real name, unknown to most people all these years, is actually Jos Kleij) outlines in his introduction the circumstances under which his texts were created. The Do It Yourself mentality of punk struck the band just as hard as the political, anarchic vision set by the squatters movement. But he also reveals personal sources of inspiration, such as the work of Peter Hammill (who was also greatly admired by Johnny Rotten—apparently the gap between prog rock and punk wasn’t that very wide after all). Sok delicately explains why he doesn’t sing in Dutch: that was too much Rock Around the Clog. And then all these texts have yet to come: sometimes explicitly political, sometimes venomous, and in a very personal way close to the skin of the zeitgeist. But always intelligent and committed. Good to read, therefore, that slowly he’s becoming musically active again.