the mike davies column december 2016


GOODNIGHT LENIN make a welcome return to the recording scene with new single Desire, (Static Caravan). Their first release since their majestic debut album, In The Fullness of Time, back in December 14, it marks a musical shift from the album’s West Coast influenced wintery Americana to a more urban sound the press release associates with the likes of Springsteen and War On Drugs. Which, roughly translated, means it’s an upbeat, rocky affair with a driving beat and guitars, but still showcasing those distinctive vocal warbles. It’s intended as the first of four singles over the forthcoming year leading up to the second album next Winter. I eagerly await what the months bring.


After a slightly longer absence, FUZZBOX have just released Let’s Go Supernova!, their first original new music since 1990, a stomping neon pop fun number in trademark style, drums driving the propulsive beat while ViX delivers the effervescent vocals. Hopefully, just the first taster of an interrupted but revitalised career with a line up that, in addition to founder members ViX and Maggie Dunne now features guitarist Megan Burke, bassist Sarit Black and drummer Hannah Layhe.

Meanwhile, THE TWANG have come over all festive with their download Christmas single, or, more accurately, Christmas Eve single, On The 24 th , a sort of swaying love song mix of The Pogues and Roy Orbison with shimmering strings, cascading guitar chords, brass and lyrics about getting maudlin and sentimental after having a few to drink.

red shoes

RED SHOES are prepping their eagerly awaited third album, to which end they’re running a Crowdfunder campaign that you can find at with all manner of ways to contribute and get exclusives in return. The album, potentially titled Salter’s Screen, is planned as a double with one disc a full band outfit that includes contributions from Fairport’s Dave Pegg and Ric Sanders and the other a stripped back set of just vocals and guitar. Planned for release in Spring 17, tracks will include new numbers such as Maple Tree Boy Dust In The Hallway, Heart of Stourport Town, Pirates and the likely title track as well as their magnificent disintegrating relationship number Hostile Place which dates back to their brief incarnation as The Lorelei as well as set veteran ballad It Isn’t Over Yet, recast as an uptempo fiddle driven romp in the manner of Swansong and, hopefully, Kansas, a track recorded for but not included on All The Good Friends, and their version of the VU’s Pale Blue Eyes.


The saga of the different versions of UB40 continues with the ‘Featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey’ line-up releasing Unplugged, a 16-track rework of the hits alongside some hitherto unrecorded covers in an acoustic treatment (though how an organ counts as acoustic I’m not sure). This basically means dropping the sax and bass replacing them with melodica, something which works on some occasions and on others, namely One In Ten and Food For Thought, doesn’t. Opening with Kingston Town, Campbell’s voice is as warm and easy on the ear as ever while Astro resurrects the toasting on Red Red Wine that featured on the 1983 album version and, for I Got You Babe, Ali’s paired with daughter Kaya, which gives the lyrics a somewhat odd dimension. Other hits and previously covered numbers given the makeover here include Rat In Mi Kitchen, Tyler, Cherry Oh Baby, Many Rivers To Cross, You Could Meet Somebody, Please Don’t Make Me Cry, Homely Girl and (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You.


There’s also two additions to the repertoire, a slightly slower skanking version of The Equals classic Baby Come Back featuring Pato Banton and a stab at Purple Rain which is, quite frankly, just poor reggae karaoke. The album closes with That’s Supposed To Hurt, a number that originally appeared on Campbell’s solo debut, Flying High and fits in nicely here.

The release comes as a double CD, the second disc being, yes, UB40’s Greatest Hits, a minor 20 track variation on the previous hits collections and essentially a slightly longer version of The Best Of that loses Tell Me Is It True, Light My Fire and Until My Dying Day and adds King, Breakfast In Bed, Please Don’t Make Me Cry and Many Rivers To Cross. 2020