The Severance – Blaney (YERRR/ BMG)
Louder than War gives this album from Ed Blaney, the onetime latter-day member of The Fall, a rating of nine-out-of-ten, but sod that, it's a seven bottler out of five if I ever heard one.
Sass, bounce, beat, humour (of the kind that warms those mysterious cockles on a winter's night), well-crafted songs somewhere between pop, rock and wiggle yer butt, all the while dragging your sorry ageing carcass onto the dancefloor. Except for a couple of quiet ones, but you'll be listening hard to those. Sucked in? Deep inside!
Right, let me get my breath back. You don't hear much of the kind of pop made in “the ‘60s” anymore, do you? Well, alright, it's not the ‘60s anymore, that's one reason. And another is ... the music industry lost its innocence long, long ago, but found it again in the '60s, or appeared to.
Behold: Ed Blaney's outfit, Blaney. It is rare, rare, rare that we hear an LP describing all the sheer joy of living life as it was meant to be lived, along with occasional reflective (not maudlin) textures. You'll be singing along in no time...
It's a happy return - magic is happenin'
... loving my life and the mystery
some say never, some say yes
I'll take my chances
I'm feeling blessed
That's from the first song. How bizarre is it, really, that it takes an old git (Ed was born in 1951, he's one of the original older punker generation - Strummer was born the following year) to conjure up the kind of modern, self-aware, fabulous LP which puts most of the (much younger) competition into a bin.
Did I miss the boat, lump in my throat
Guess I'm just kind of low - catch the rain
Feel the rain - I can't refrain
From loving you
Now look. It might not be Shakespeare (or, thank God, Burns, or Lou Reed) (and who reads Shakespeare these days? Really?) but the lyric is real, it's heartfelt, and Ed nails these songs just bloody right. And the backing - well, it's not so much backing as gleeful yip through what we call modern civilisation. No? Well, here's the flipside of "Feel the Rain" above.
I can't make her smile all of the time
We only got wed last week
But now I'm out on the street
I'm drinking most of the time, out of my mind
There's a rough familiarity there, isn't there? If we've not been in a similar position, our friends certainly have.
If I changed my point of view, then I'll come back to you
But I'm drinking most of the time, out of my mind,
And don't say 'for heaven's sake', forever we'll make mistakes
I can't make you smile all of the time
Jesus, I mean really. I mean, it's pretty miserable, isn't it? Yet we're not in the Morrissey ballpark here; Ed puts the song to us with a rueful smile, another pint as we waltz or bunny-hop around the room.
Here's a quote from the man, nicked from a newspaper called Salford Star (no, really, that's what it's called) and the interview conducted by Bethia Beadman;
It has nice rawness and a good energy to it that shows in the recording, I think...We had a great time making it. So far it's been getting a great reaction from all who have bought it and it's already picking plays on national radio which is brilliant considering there is no huge amount of money pushing it; it's pushing itself.
And there's more... this is from the title track “The Severance”:
We're going to a better place
Are we living alone
Many places I've roamed
Pictures in your mind
Creations left behind
The only thing making sense
Lies with the severance
I should, I spose, give you some background on the man. So, to demonstrate a bit of credibility to us iggerunt Aussies, Ed Blaney's a Mancunian who's lived a life most of us would give our right testicle to have lived (alright, not all of it, put the bloody thing away, it wasn't an offer), has been writing kicking songs for decades, that he's been in two notable bands, one with a significant number of releases (and no, I'm not telling you until later), and is also the man behind the Salford Music Festival.
On the track “11007 Days Old” he describes himself as “an English poet from the 21st Century”, which seems peculiarly apt - as the majority of his life and writing has occurred in the 20th Century, I assume he has always felt he was part of the 21st Century ... on the other hand... "I remember when True Spirit lived, there wasn't anything your neighbour wouldn't give"
Other than all that... “The Severance” is firmly on repeat (one good sign is the offsider poking her head in to fret about the neighbours) and that's all you really need to know. Sometimes it's kinda powerpop, sometimes it's not so much Spaghetti Western as Spaghetti Urban, sometimes it's the kind of beguiling story you seem to remember from your past.
If you need another comparison - two people I've played this two both commented that it reminded them of Spencer P. Jones. I can't imagine Ed knowing Spencer, though knowing Spencer's broad taste in music he could well be familiar with Ed's music. (Of course, it's just a happy coincidence.)
I'd kill to see Blaney live (I heard there was a posh new law that you can't protest against the govvinmint anymore?) and, after half a minute on your first listen (if that), so will you.
Gawd help the monkeys flinging poo in parliament. We need Blaney in there.
Oh, I should qualify: “Severance” is not a cod ‘60s LP. But there's so much which resonates from that era on here - mostly technique, songwriting, sensibility, smarts, soundtracks and... oh, yeah, the entire thing was recorded in an old 1950’s cinema in Berlin - just so they could get away from all the distraction of Salford.
Party in the street and the drinks are free
There's a party in the street and the drinks are free
Four Party Sevens and a bottle of Q.C.
These are the things I really wanna see