As little as six months ago, I would have mocked had it been predicted that I would soon become a listener to Radio 2. However, the demise of Rock Radio (now part of the Real Radio Group) and the insistence from the decision-makers at Radio 1 that my age-group is no longer specifically desired (at least for their day-time shows) drove me to grudgingly tune in.
And guess what – the first two shows I discovered were Brian Matthews and The Sound Of The Sixties ….. and a ‘through the night’ show hosted by former Fun Loving Criminal, Huey Morgan.
I was hooked: especially so in the case of the latter. The eclectic choice of music and direct, no bullshit presentation, make this the perfect advert for BBC’s I-Player – (the show airs around midnight to three on a Saturday morning.)
So, when presented with a (digital) copy of Huey’s new album, it was a bit of a no-brainer. This is going to be a real mish-mash of songs that reflect Huey’s personal tastes as illustrated on his radio show.
And indeed, you can tell that this IS a perfect reflection of Huey’s taste – you get the feeling that he’s more than ‘comfortable’ with this style of music. It’s heavily loaded with New York soul, tinted with a touch of Blues and is delivered with a really smooth presentation. This however leads to my only little ‘beef,’ with ‘Say It To My Face,’ in that it does tend to be a little bit one-paced.
But I get it – I really do, even if it does take a few intent listens.
Huey Morgan is a story-teller, and one who it would seem is undoubtedly both proud of, and misses his home city of New York. The ‘New York feel’ comes across most strongly in many of these twelve songs that span fifty minutes.
‘Stick It To The Man,’ opens the album in a definite FLC style. It has that little trademark bounce with repeated guitar riffs and gentle funky ‘wah wah’ guitar and shrill piano backing. As ever, Huey’s vocals are slightly gruff and yet still sound somewhat ‘smooth.’
‘Dirty Bird,’ has Huey more or less speaking the vocals throughout the verses and again (though this time it’s the Hammond organ in the background) it has a distinct FLC sound. ‘Let My People Go ‘gently rocks things up a little, only for the pace to drop again on ‘Shaniqua.’
This is a lovely track, combining the Hammond again with piano and pedal steel guitar. Yes, it has a kind of ‘Country’ feel, but more like that you’d find on a Rolling Stones album of old.
‘The Ripple,’ for some reason makes me think of Robbie Robertson and ‘Somewhere Down The Crazy River’ – maybe I’m way off the mark …. I’m sure someone will debate the point – but they’ll lose!
‘The Way It Was Before,’ is one I particularly like. I think it appeals to the latent schoolboy in me, what with all the swearing and street talk! The backing vocals give it a sort of George Harrison feel, I think. ‘It’s Alright,’ is funky as hell with a great bass-line, and then there is the beautiful Country sound of ‘Fall Into Me.’ Again I think a bit of The Rolling Stones, but with Keef on vocals!
‘New York Bluez,’ is my favourite! Very Captain Beefheart styled vocals and Primal Scream type slide guitar; a great combo!
Of the remaining three songs, two are a little downbeat for me: ‘She’s Gone,’ and ‘The White Guard,’ although the latter does see the atmospherics intensify in the second half of its six minute duration with some nice distant sounding guitar.
That just leaves ‘Christmas By The Side Of The Road.’ Oddly, it sounds like ‘Country’ gone ‘Hawaiian’ in places, but for all that is still a compelling listen.
And I think those last two words sum up the album as a whole: there’s probably something here for everyone, but overall I’d wager that neither Radio 1 nor Real XS would be all that interested in adding it to their playlists.
But Radio 2……………..?
(Maybe I’ve now come of age …….!)
(Released through Naim Edge Records on 29th October 2012)
(8.5 / 10)