Holler for a Marshall
Tears of the Minotaur - The Christopher Marshall Predestination (self released)
I guess the starting point here will be 1980s noisy blues outfit Harem Scarem, formed by Charlie and Christopher Marshall. Until they found Chris Wilson, Christopher was lead vocalist. And I do wish for a few live tapes of that line-up.
And, curious how things turn out.
Like his fellow bandmate the late Chris Wilson, Marshall's voice is quite extraordinary, and you can pretty much pick your own favourite blues vocalist to compare him to.
Chris Wilson, on the other hand, had that tang but veered more, as far as I was concerned, towards soul. I mean, the man loved the blues. But he had to take his creativity where his voice lead him, if you know what I mean.
Perhaps it's similar with Christopher Marshall. His voice is such a vivid, star here, his delivery rich and filled with tone and shade. Well up in the mix, and that's dead right because the music is really there as a platform for Marshall's voice.
The songs? Oh, the songs are damn good; the songwriting team of Marshall and Baz Turnbull (guitars) have pulled a bunch of amazing pies from the oven. They positively hum and vibrate, far beyond the tunes.
Look, I don't want to go on. But:
Boundary rider – night patrol
Who’s gonna secure the perimeter of your lost soul?
Boundary rider off the track
Someone’s stolen your drones and they aren’t ever going to give them back"
... now, that's from the first song. The first song. Of eleven. And they're all marvellous, riven with a groovy lope and a laid-back precision. Here:
Hold Fast – soon will come the dawn
Praying in a church without a ceiling
Rubbing on the bones to start a light
Puzzling on a text that has no meaning
I won’t go down without a final fight
So hold fast to the derailed train
Hold fast while you trip again
The rips and chest-bursting emotion coming out of Marshall is so impressive, you don't realise how deep the words have run until you play it for the second, third, and fourth times. Maybe it's me, but the songs approach their subject with such originality I find myself wondering if this is a 'break-up' album.
BUT, if it isn't, it's what you'll put on without thinking - when the unthinkable happens. Yeah, “Tears of the Minotaur” is that good. In fact, while I think of it, this is an LP Keith Richards would admire, and Mick Jagger ... well, Mick would fuckin' kill for Chris Marshall's voice.
Would the Stones cover any one of these songs?
Only in their dreams.
Look. Perspective. If Marshall's voice wasn't so infernal, so internally spectacular and so ... bloody huge, the whole thing would be a very enjoyable night out anyway.
Instead, we're treated to these fine songs PLUS a sort of fireworks display of talent, joi de vivre, deja vu, regret, horror and humour. Which is, as I'm sure you'll agree, worth forking out for. Either way, investigate here.