Released by: Round Rock Records
Release Date: March 31, 2014
Genre: Classic rock / pop rock / punk / prog rock
Random Jon Poole
03. Grow A Pair
04. Burn This City Down
05. The Order Of The Dog
06. Body Parts
07. The Beat Goes On (Caledonia)
08. After All You Said About Cowboys
With an intro that would fit perfectly on ‘Who’s Next’, ‘Drive’ borrows a little from ‘Baba O’Reilly’ and starts what is now the third PledgeMusic event from Ginger (or Ginger Wildheart as he is better known these days).
For those that are unfamiliar with the success he has had over the last few years, Ginger is the front man of The Wildhearts, a band who have had multiple hit singles and albums over the years since the release of ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’ some 20 years ago. A successful solo artist as well, Ginger has recently hit the headlines as the man who asked his fans to give him £25,000 to make an album and they responded by pledging £250,000. This resulted in the wonderful 555%, a triple CD / Vinyl album that made the top 20 album chart when it was released. Not bad for a man who was on the verge of retirement due to record company apathy and lack of investment in established acts.
The PledgeMusic programme reaped rewards for not only the fans but the man himself and here we are 3 years on with PledgeMusic album Number 3 ‘Albion’.
After the Who’esque opener, full of hooks and melody, the listener would be excused for assuming this would be the direction of the album from that point onwards. This however is not the case and whilst the melodies, hooks and catchy choruses remain over the next couple of tracks ‘Cambria’ and ‘The Road to Apple Cross’ take the listener on a journey through thrashy vocal distortions, prog breaks, soothing vocals from Victoria Liedtke (Ginger’s Hey! Hello! partner in crime – see PledgeMusic programme number 2) and underpinning it all, those choruses that stick with you long after the song has ended.
If there’s one thing this man can do, it’s write a song that is catchy, holds you in thrall and leaves you wanting more. “Let me help you carry that weight around..” they sing. And why not, because no one currently does it better than this team.
‘The Order of the Dog’ and ‘Chill Motherfucker, Chill’ beautifully show how a talented group of musicians can create sonic tapestries running through a dozen styles of music before wrapping it all up with very thought provoking lyrics. All the while the listener is picking up a new style, a small nuance in the tracks.
‘Burn This City Down’ ups the tempo with its infectious chorus “Burn this city down, burn it to the ground” and it’s followed by natural single ‘Body Parts’ for which an online contest is running to find the best fan made video to accompany it.
There’s a vintage feel to the album both in style and production and with ‘The Beat Goes On’ and ‘After All You Said About Cowboys’ it makes you wonder what a collaboration with the late John Lennon or even David Bowie would sound like.
On ‘Grow a Pair’ Victoria gets to drive the vocals with a great bass back line as Ginger explains that he no longer “wants to be dickhead all of his life”, a sentiment Victoria readily agrees with! ‘I Need You’ maintains the style with another great slab of pop rock (with more prog like keyboard breaks from Bryan Scary) but again, just as the listener thinks they know what to expect, in comes a curve ball.
The curveball in this case is ‘Capital Anxiety’ a track that would not be out of place on ‘that’ Wildhearts album that people either love or hate (Endless Nameless) or more recent output from Ginger and his Mutation project. At under 2 minutes it’s a short burst of ferocity before the album settles down again with the Beatles tinged ‘Into This’.
‘Creepers’ is great fun, catchy, sing-along-a-chorus and perfect pop/prog for the tail end of the album before we get to the title track. ‘Albion’ is THE track where we really get to see the best of the 7 artists working in harmony. Rumour and comment on the World Wide Web suggests this was a difficult album to make but when they gel, and no more so than on this track, we get to see what a talented team has been assembled. Clocking in at 10:27 this lengthy track gives the band the opportunity to experiment and try everything from Marillion like prog journeys through to jazz driven bass elements from long time stalwart Random Jon Poole. Victoria’s vocals come across like a 1940’s USO concert for the troops before dipping back into the wall of sound that sums up the current output from the main man here. Ginger has suggested this may well be his last solo outing (Perhaps a Wildhearts pledge campaign beckons) but let’s hope not as he clearly has much left to offer.
The 15 tracks on the Pledge release are being cut down to 10 for the commercial version and it’s difficult to lose the extra tracks as they all bring their own individual footprint to the overall package.
As always with output from Ginger & Co. you will only reap the rewards of the natural successor to 555% through repeated listens. To appreciate the full beauty of Albion from one of Britain’s greatest songwriters, it’s well worth the investment.
Written by Adrian
Ratings Adrian 10/10