Sunday, December 29, 2019


Quite a metaphor, that, uncertain which is the dominant force, whether it is sugar sweetening the destructive power of an iceberg, or a the gulp of realisation following a swallow of something not quite so sweet after all. I am sure the lyric explains but I prefer the uncertainty, tending more towards the tune and the presentation. Both of which this band had, here and in general, in spades. And I notice they have some gigs lined up for next year, this late return surely worth a shout, pinned as it is on the back of the 25th anniversary of their third album, 'Jollification'. (Which was last month, with a trio of initial shows then taking place.)

I was on the bus a bit before Jollification, they, or he, Ian Broudie, having hatched the band alone in his studio, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals on the first album, 1989's 'Cloudcuckooland'. Perhaps not quite as big an ask as you might imagine, he being already an accomplished producer of other folks records in his home town of Liverpool. But I am still ahead of myself, my introduction to Ian Broudie being through his membership of Liverpudlian semi-supergroup Big in Japan. Where, let alone anywhere else, they weren't, their fame being mainly down to where the many and various members went next, it being the launchpad for, amongst others, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the KLF, one drummer later joining Siouxsie and the Banshees, the keyboardsman joining The Teardrop Explodes. And Ian Broudie becoming producer for Echo and the Bunnymen and The Icicle Works. Not bad for a band so reviled in their lifetime as to have a petition taken out to promote their dissolution, albeit signed also by the band themselves.

Above is 'Pure', the debut single from the above mentioned 'Cloudcuckooland', I remembering well the first time I heard it. I was in full Morris Dancing costume, dancing with local side, Silhill Morris, at fabled warwickshire country pub, the Black Boy, the pub as mentioned, momentarily, in the finale of Peaky Blinders, series 5. Whilst I dare say I may not have fully dredged up this skeleton from my past, something for another day, that day some bemusement was to be had by the already punished locals by the sight of yours truly putting the song on the jukebox, repeatedly and repeatedly, whilst my colleagues danced outside to the song of an altogether older Albion. I love the music of the morris, but, that day, I was transfixed.

Next album, 'Sense', followed a couple or so years later. It was good, if not quite so, the video for lead single, 'Life of Riley', perhaps revealing why, at least for the espousedly non-football loving me, it had Broudie delineating his love for all things soccer writ large. Prejudice is a strong word, but it was enough to put me off the band. So, when Broudie then teamed up with comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, all three utter football nuts, to write and perform the (admittedly very catchy) England European Nations Championship song of 1996, I was mortified. Getting it to number one in the UK singles charts twice, it being reprised in 1998, made it worse still, the horror of when one of your favourite bands not only become well known and celebrated to all, it also being with also something you cannot admit to any love for. (Admit is the operative word, I fear, as see also Chumbawamba.)

So I missed out, at the time, on 'Jollification'. And, until this piece, had no idea the b(r)and put out a further three albums, the knowledge giving me no small amount of homework. The featured song even comes from one of them, 'Dizzy Heights'. Are they any good? Unsurprisingly, yes, they are, even if the bubble of britpop had burst somewhat, along with the laddism of football hurly-burly becoming, now to others as well, a less well received intrusion, propelled no doubt with the ongoing dismal performances of the national side. In particular, I like the more dance oriented sound on 5th album, 'Tilt'.

A ten year gap, to 2009, and their final, at least so far, committal to disc, 'Four Winds'. Resorting now more to co-writes, you might be mistaken, from the opening of 'Ghosts', below, that this represents a further change in direction. That is, until the familiar angelic vocal chimes in, a familiar clang-clang backbeat, even if surrounded by sweeps of synth. So, all is well.
 I await my show, in March, an early and late birthday present to myself. I look forward. Just don't play bloody 'Three Lions'......

New to you? This. Otherwise, that.

(If this actually is up your street, between 'Tilt' and 'Four Winds', perhaps tilting at the four winds, came 'Tales Told', altogether simpler fare, the studio tricks reined in, may be even more so, it being a solo Ian Broudie release.)

blog comments powered by Disqus