record reviews october 2020


Creation Myths (MIR/Petaluma)


Reteamed again with producer Sam Cohen, this is a revisiting and reworking of his very first self-penned songs, the majority written some 20 years ago but which never made their way on to disc. Sing Sing lazily ambles its way into the opening track for five minutes of synth-backed dreaminess that hints at Lennon in places before See Monkey offers a kind of woozy ska complete with brass and an excursion into Eastern textures mid-way. Bluesy piano shuffling and pedal steel take over on Know You Know while, again featuring steel, the summery Mrs. & Mr. E follows an acoustic strum and Iris harks to Sgt Pepperish psychedelia.

It’s all very restrained, The Half Life waltzing languidly along with only the resonant piano notes and drums of Promo ever really lifting the tempo before the sparse staccato guitar of Anonymous ends it all. Narcotic and trippy, never raising the pulse, you’ll either find this something to chill to or rather dull depending on the time of day. Mike Davies


The Star Spread Indefinite (Self-released)


Not the Birmingham-born author, but the Hampshire-based songwriter and former Co-Pilgrim frontman, a 32-track TASCAM cassette recorded collection of eight tracks exploring ideas of solitude and calm. Using electronics and samples as well as organic instruments, it’s a dreamy affair, the opening number Go Help with its muted trumpet perhaps evocative of Brian Wilson and Smile. As the album unfolds, Gale traverses pop and acoustic sensibilities, a touch of pastoral vibe to This Year (about being okay that his music won’t ever have a universal audience) and Pastel Coloured Warm, rippling folk infusions of Wilson and the ISB on Lifeboats Away, tinkling and cascading patterns shimmering through Go-Betweens homage Striped Sunlight with its a capella mid-section and the near eight minute I’ll Get My Wish bringing it to an almost instrumental head (vocals don’t appear until five minutes in) with its samples of storm winds, strummed guitar and closing piano notes.

As he says, he’s never going to reach beyond a small audience, but it’ll certainly be a discerning one. Mike Davies


You’ve Always Been Here (BMG)

cover The Jaded Hearts Club - You ve Always Been Here

Formed by Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets), Nic Cester (Jet), guitarists Graham Coxon (Blur) Matt Bellamy (Muse) on bass and drummer Sean Payne (The Zutons) alongside second guitarist Jamie Davis just or the fun of it, this sees them plunging into a set of Northern Soul and Motown covers, but not before kicking it all off with 60 seconds of We’ll Meet Again complete with seagulls.

The Four Tops are the first in line with a faithful take on Reach Out, I’ll Be There, albeit with rather more strident drums and a less persuasive ‘hah’, followed by some throbbing, raspy guitar for Have Love Will Travel, originally recorded as a doo wop number by its writer Richard Berry in 1959, but the version here based on The Sonics’ garage punk recording in 1965. That Love Starved Heart Of Mine (It’s Killing Me) was part of a collection of tracks recorded by Marvin Gaye in 1967 but which were never released until 1994, the number bearing musical similarities to I Heard I Through The Grapevine, including the ‘honey, honey’ line, though rather less obviously so here.

Originally by the Isley Brothers in 1962 but a far bigger hit for The Human Beinz in 1968, Nobody But Me falls into the list of dances genre (see Do You Wanna Dance, Land of a Thousand Dances etc) and opens with numerous repeats of the word no, the version here suggesting more a British beat influence from the likes of The Stones and early Manfred Mann.

Departing somewhat what their avowed template, Long And Lonesome Road was actually written and recorded by Dutch outfit Shocking Blue in 1969 and released as a single prior to their massive hit Venus. More familiar will be I Put A Spell On You, written and first released by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and subsequently hits for both Nina Simone and The Alan Price Set, and Money (That’s What I Want), the first hit for Motown in 1959, co-written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford and released by Barrett Strong, though this version leans more on the rowdy Beatles incarnation. The Isleys get a second visit with Why When The Love Is Gone before obscure Northern Soul rarity Love’s Gone Bad, initially released in 1966 by Chris Clark on Motown subsidiary label V.I.P. Records and again another number given a garage rock makeover, this time by The Underdogs. It ends with another sample, birdsong, before the immediately recognisable fingerclicking introduces an intimately whispered take on Peggy Lee’s smouldering Fever.

You can clearly tell the band is having a great time here and it’s utterly infectious. Next time you’re allowed to have a party at home, this has to be the one to get everybody up. Mike Davies 2020