Monday, 28 May 2012
Messrs Hackett and Squire, so what have they trespassed on from their past to bring us this 2012 offering. If we go in search of the artists origins of this work we will find some answers we might expect and others we might not.
There is some Frippery from early 80’s and Mr May of his Britannic majesty in the guitar work. Crosby, Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, XTC, Mr “ackits” solo career which leads down to some quintessential English whimsy, music hall and vaudeville. However if we were expecting a big dose of the affirmatives we would be wrong-oh so wrong and that is hugely to Mr Squire’s credit. This music is fresh and quite separate.
A special mention for the keyboard player, who is always fresh and incisive, and only lets go briefly on the title track. His sounds and playing are an object lesson in how to avoid 1977.
After the first listen I tossed all the musical referencing and sourcing out and just decided to lie back and enjoy myself.
Life With In a Day
A tour de force opener full of energy. The tinkling keyboard sets up the piece but this is no mid pace cod prog-rock ponderous opening it has a sense of urgency Hackett intervenes with a searing guitar figure a clattering of drums (big sound) and then the storming aggressive major verse. Hackett pulls out some great soloing and then the elephant verse stomps on. This is entertaining intelligent-rock the right side of bombast. After 3 minutes everybody sprints off Hackett mad as a hatter and Christopher gives chase. The three themes the vocal chant, the stomping guitar and runaway playing repeating and setting up the project beautifully.
Mutates the rock feel into something more subtle, a grove as the “Belew like” guitar counter points the clever lyric. Nice inserts from the keys but nothing distracting it’s all about the song. Then the chorus and here I am reminded of Sad Night from FFH. Elegant playing full of atmosphere and perfectly judged guitar soloing.
“To be or not to be A White Van Man” sets up this great piece of Brit Pop. I cannot wait to look at the lyrics to this more closely full of wry English humour. There is something of Asia’s homage to the Beatles on Omega to this.
A false keyboard start and then the beautiful jazz tinged refrain. Mr S takes the lead here and like his Christmas CD his Baritone voice is full of expressive warmth. The chorus sounds most attractive indeed despite reservations being expressed about the live version the whole piece is a winner. In the tradition of Bowie et al a pop vocal about space and time and why not, the deeply heartfelt stuff is there as well at the summit of this work.
Sea of Smiles
Its CSN time, a good time feel given depth by a strong arrangement utilising vibes, bongos and jangling guitars. This is an example of the benefits of the rhythm section, notably the drums, easing back and lithely pushing prodding the music forward, allowing it to swing and breath. Chris is light and dextrous here, no need for thunder.
The Summer Backwards
The unison singing reminds me a little of Moon Safari. The lyrics are dreamlike and full of pathos. Its pieces like this that makes the CD an event giving it a band width and breadth so that….
…Has even more potency. Those who love mid period Genesis with Hackett without Gabriel will see this piece as a child of Squonk. Mid song Steve goes walkabout creating all sorts of off the wall sound scapes and Chris thunders approval prodding him on in the back ground.
So far a CD brimming with quality, entertaining, powerful and intelligent and beautifully played but at 44 years up I look for real emotional engagement something that mines a deeper connection. Will I have my wish?
Can’t Stop the Rain
A gorgeous jazzy pop intro a gentle flute swirls and in comes a seductive bass figure and Chris steps up and takes the lead. What evolves is a highly personal lyrical story arc taking us back to the beginning and enunciating the aspirational hope of our youth and a desire to do right. The guitar work on this piece is sublime perfectly judged. At the end of the concerts last year Chris acknowledged our loyalty, this song has the same quality direct, impassioned and honest and then the coda.
Perfect Love Song
Out of the quiet repeat emerges the lyrical update. The hook is insistent gorgeous full of natural dancing rhythm. He wants to hear the perfect love song and Steve tares of a wonderful solo. Then a great, lyric “how quickly memories slip the net, it feels like we’ve already met, a soundtrack sighing on and on from a film that has a perfect love song”. The outro takes us away from this wonderful emotional summit to a project full of variety, great tunes, a fascinating use of their vocal skills and committed music making.