Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Here's a couple of Likely Lads - Grin and hear it (see what I did there?)

Grin and bear it. A smile to fend off the ills of the world.  You get those feelings sometimes as you work through the final days of a long old haul at work – roll on the break. Chin up old man – we’ll see it through.

So here come The Wellgreen to spread their ever changing scene to the masses. It’s a new album see – another long player from the best players. Song number one – Grin and Bear It – sets the tone - like an updated Bay City Rollers with swagger (and there’s nothing wrong with that)  – you can feel yourself transported back to housing estates and blurred photographs of the family – with that boogie woogie backing – a sudden transmission from 1974 – similar to The Beach Boys rocking rocking chugging chugging roll of LA (Light Album) messed with a Wild Honey moment.  I think one the Rollers came from Prestonpans  - the other side of the Scottish tracks from these lads – and I get that sense of concrete and glam(our) melded in this stomping sure fire starter.

Like the opening to a sit-com scheduled just after The Likely Lads – there’s a flutter and smile in it all – I guess the album mines some of those Macca moments that run through With the Beatles right up to his last album – but as always - I can hear those Beach Boys chords and changes playing with my expectations – with fluid bass lines and familiar patterns - this long player feels like I already owned it – and that’s a good thing. The familiar (feel) flows through the nine songs on this lovingly crafted second album. I know my references will be obvious and not the ones that are clearly playing a part in the development of this set of super songs. (But tolerate them if you can) What I love about this album is that I can’t put my finger on the sound. As I said before – it’s the familiar. And that’s comforting.

There’s a whole heap of style – delivered with wit and honesty across this second album. Less sprawling than the final parts of their first. The songs sit well together – it’s a player – you know those days when you’d put a record on – play side one – turn it over and play side two. It has that feel – even down to the CD print (it looks like a record – you see’ll that when you buy it – and you will buy it – come on its Christmas for fuck’s sake – treat a friend – they’ll be your friend for life)

And the second song’s a smasher too – still with the feeling of flares and scuffed  shoes comes Sunday – not quite Monday – but I don’t like Mondays – shall I tell you why – it’s because I like Sunday – here’s the simple soundtrack written in glam high notes and pauses. Saying that, it has a feel of The Who’s  A Quick One – observational and sing-a-long . Quickly followed by gig staple Ants – hemmed into a Merseybeat sound – with sudden stops and descends – Ants scurries around the mind and sticks there – like the wee bastards in the houses. I don’t mean the The Wellgreen are wee bastards - just in case you mis-read me – I also picture them as red ants in the song ( another throwback to my seventies youth) And so to further the journey comes Train Song like a Simon and Garfunkel (with a hint of Freddie of the Dreamers – it’s the simplicity of that Casio beat) coupled with arpeggios courtesy of the MT100. With Marco and Stu lamenting that they just weren’t  born at the right time. Well they were. Because it means we have this music now and not in the past as nostalgia – it sits right here in 2013 as a testament to the fact that they can just write songs that aren’t affected and processed in a bombastic manner to knock the feeling right out of them.

I’ve said it before  - the fragility of The Wellgreen is there in the space and harmony. Which leads aptly into Counting  all these moments - one for the road – in the middle of the album - this isn’t looking back - this is the result of writing beautiful songs in homes late at night and into early mornings – it’s dancing with your partner through the days. It’s looking into eyes and falling in love – its casual glances and shared looks - it’s heartfelt and honest.

Then up pops Remember opening with a Zombies flourish and Hal Blaine snare rolls – coupled with those simple – yet always effective harmonies from Stu and Marco. Oh and how we wish for a harmony in the modern world. I was talking with a friend sometime ago and we were discussing how every boy band of the modern age ( you can define that) has failed to recognise that harmonies are what made the Beatles great – and now they just belt their parts in the same key and inflect everything in the same old fucking  manner (Ladies and gentlemen I give you Take That – I mean come on Gary – have a listen to The Wellgreen) Now with The Wellgreen there’s a measure to the mix  - sound complimenting sound – this is music made to be  played on the radio – you know -  the big radio – all over the country – harmonies like this sound wonderful through small speakers.

As you can see – I’m going track by track – I don’t usually but I wanted to put something down about each one. Because I said before without the writing how would we know – so next up is Impossible Love – mining those country roots all Gene Clark going solo  with The Fanclub for his backing band. It’s melting harmonies time and somewhere in there is a touch of Mike Nesmith going it alone.  I guess the whole album has this emerging seventies sound – a nod to what the sixties produced but taking it somewhere else and of course updating for the now.  Saying that, Summer Rain with its Bacharach moments and the return of the Everly Brothers should be sound tracking an eighties teen coming of age flick. Sublime. There’s music for every decade.

Leading to the finale of On Our Own, this heartfelt tribute to just being in love – you know the feeling – we’ll take the world on – together – just you and me. It has a Wings feel to it – now I’m no Wings fan – I couldn’t name another song other than the hits – but it’s the structure and the tone – lovely. Soaring stuff. 

So The Barne Society have done it again – this ever growing collection of beautiful tunes, wordsmithery and risk all packaged in their unique way. I’m glad The Wellgreen have a new album out. And it is an album. All killer – no filler. So to put it in a most simple way – it’s good that Stu and Marco find time to sing – to write – to record - to release it -  because it pleases other people.

It makes me grin. It will you too. 

This is Summer Rain 'off the new album' in Glasgow - with added guitar

There's also a stream of the whole Barne Society Christmas shindig - but I can't find the link again - so google The Wellgreen, The Barne Society or go to soundcloud and find The Wellgreen, or Marco Rea or Stuart Kidd - basically click stuff and listen - you know it's worth it. (I'll sort the links soon)