IAN PROWSE is a modern folk legend, fronting two influential bands in the last 20 years; Pele and Amsterdam. It’s no surprise that the Celtic-sounding Pele supported The Pogues in the ‘90s, what does come as a shock is the band’s popularity in Europe and even South Africa, where they hit number one with their second single, ‘Megalomania’. In this country, only the soft-rock of ‘Taking on the World’ got extended radio airtime (on Radio 2), but both bands have a dedicated fan base today and Prowse continues to play around the country. ‘Does This Train Stop on Merseyside’ is a collection of his most popular songs with both acts, as well as a few new ones and even a duet with Elvis Costello.
The record opens with the title track, which was famously included in the late John Peel’s final Festive 50; his wife explained after his death that the song reduced him to tears every single time he heard it – high praise indeed. It’s easy to see why though, as the heartfelt Liverpool love-letter is the best thing on offer here; a gritty but anthemic and catchy account of the city, touching on its roots in the slave trade, the Hillsborough tragedy and of course the famous Radio City tower. A simple song, but something of a classic in that part of the world, I’m sure. However, ‘…Merseyside’ isn’t an ideal introduction to his work, as the record progresses through far more jaunty tracks (for the most part). ‘Fair Blows the Wind for France’ is an up-beat pop song; ‘Home’ a Celtic folk paean, complete with strings and Irish pipes, while ‘Raid the Palace’ is a decent stab at folk-punk.
However, this hits collection does begin to feel a bit repetitive as it goes on, despite the tracks being organised non–chronologically. On the other hand, the duets with Christy Moore and particularly his and Costello’s take on the Searchers classic ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ prove Prowse’s influence on the scene and his longevity as an artist is undoubted. ‘…Merseyside’ is certainly a collection for fans but while I may have missed his work when it came out, the record serves as a great introduction, as well as providing the old-timers with some interesting new material. All in all it’s a typical Greatest Hits, a little front-loaded and over-long but a solid documentation of a long career.
(Released through Universal Music on 9th April 2012)