An attempt to get more visitors by mentioning Bad Lieutenant again…

While I’m bunging up various reviews, here’s an extended version of my recent review of the Bad Lieutenant album that was supposed to go on the Clash website but, for some reason, the small version from the magazine appeared instead.



Never Cry Another Tear


New Order having dribbled to a drawn out, petulant and depressing conclusion, Bernard Sumner now finds himself fronting the less excitingly named, Bad Lieutenant. Completing the group are Phil Cunningham, ex-Marion and latter day New Order guitarist, and newcomer Jake Evans, described by Sumner as “a gifted new singer and guitar player.” Sounding like a tuneful Danny from Embrace singing like Jimi from Doves, his presence is not breathtaking, but he provides an interesting counterpoint to one of the most recognisable voices in modern music.

The album is, largely speaking, a collection of mid-paced adult contemporary rock, perfectly suited to Bernard’s drunk-tramp-with-burnt-feet dancing style. The slightly tiresome acoustic chugging favoured by Sumner dominates proceedings, but ‘Never Cry Another Tear’ gets interesting when it deviates from this pattern. ‘Dynamo’ features an outrageous plundering of The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, with a repeated jittery electronic sound that must only just be on the legally deniable side of original songwriting.

While oh-so-very Radio 2, ‘Runaway’ is a rather charmingly pristine pop song, which would likely be a chart-shagging behemoth were it sung by the lispy one in Take That. Album closer, ‘Head Into Tomorrow’, is a stirring, everything and the kitchen sink, indie anthem sung by Evans and a surprisingly decent way to bow out.

Sumner is notoriously crap at lyrics and, were this album used for a drinking game based around hackneyed clichés, everyone would be absolutely smashed within minutes. In a so bad it’s borderline genius fashion, ‘Poisonous Intent’ actually contains the phrase “so hit the road, Jack!”

‘Never Cry Another Tear’ is a pleasant enough listen, with just enough little hooks to keep things interesting. Sadly, the one Hook that might make it truly worthwhile is nowhere to be seen.


Written in August 2009

A self-indulgent way to pass the time

Hello, dear readers. The end of the decade best of list is proving tougher to finalise than I thought it would be, so that’ll have to wait just a little longer. As part of this process, I’ve been revisiting some of the reviews I’ve written over the past six or so years and thought it might be interesting to post them here and see if I was on the money, wide of the mark or simply babbling incoherently. I should say before I start this, I’m not overly thrilled with all of these and they will be the original texts as I submitted them to the magazines, and so any bits that got subbed by my erstwhile reviews editors will still be here.

To kick off, a review of Supergrass’ best of, from 2004. I’m in the middle of doing a piece about their charming new extra-curricular project, The Hot Rats, so I thought I’d drop this one out there.




The grammatically correct but aesthetically depressing title aside, this particular retrospective is something of an unknown history. After their tumultuous arrival in the midst of Brtipop, Supergrass’ star has appeared, through no fault of their own, to have been on the blink. Seemingly rather keen to point out that it wasn’t all cavorting on bikes and bendy-legged Muppets videos, this set gamely attempts to represent both sides of the ‘Grass. .

The soul of Britpop hasn’t lost any of its vigour when it reappears on a fair wedge of tunes culled from the band’s debut, ‘I Should Coco’, a spirit that is reprised on tracks from their underrated and notably under-bought last album, ‘Life On Other Planets’. There is a slight feel, however, of being down the indie-disco and the dreaded fear that Shed Seven might pop up at any time is never far from your mind. Where this record really strikes gold is in highlighting the band’s knack for contemplative, melodic acoustic tunes such as ‘Late In The Day’ and the glorious ‘It’s Not Me’. The parent album of this pair, ‘In It For The Money’, remains their finest achievement and is as deserving of the moniker ‘The Best Of Supergrass’ as this particular compilation.

Hugely enjoyable current single, *Kiss Of Life* comes on like a cross between The Charlatans and T-Rex with added silly noises, while other obligatory new track, *Bullet* offers a heavier sound but manages to forget to add a melody. Where they go next is unknown, but what they’ve already done bears some repeating.

VERDICT: Enjoyable nostalgia, but all you need is their superlative second album.

KEY TRACKS: Grace, Going Out, It’s Not Me

Originally published in Word Magazine 2004


I largely stand by this, five years on, although there’s a slightly snide reference to Shed Seven there that’s helping nobody.

The other one for today is simply proof that I’ve always known what I was talking about.



Leaders Of The Free World finds Elbow delivering a work of global majesty.

Beardy, Mancunian melancholia is an integral part of the modern music scene. Where previously local rivals such as Doves have stolen a march on them, Elbow have set about fulfilling the promise that was so clear on their first two albums. Initially purveyors of more muted, atmospheric efforts, this time out the band seem far more confident of their sizeable talents

Mostly set in the urban wilds of Manchester, the brief global view attempted in the title track proves to be a remarkably successful – now say this quietly – ‘political song.’ The beauty of lines such as, “passing the gun from father to feckless son,” in neither being too blatant nor too pious ensures that the ham-fisted, vacuous efforts of many before them are not repeated in this gem of a tune.

The album maintains its quality throughout, two of the latter songs amongst the best things I’ve heard all year. ‘The Everthere’ employs similarly muted percussion to that of Blur’s charming, ‘Out Of Time’ and is one of frontman Guy Garvey’s finest vocal performances on the record. This is only surpassed by ‘Great Expectations,’ which tells the tale of an imaginary wedding on the last bus home between our man and a hitherto unknown young lady, for which “a call-girl with yesterday eyes was our witness.”

Such endearingly well-imagined lyrics are typical of ‘Leaders Of The Free World’, an album that comes good on Elbow’s previous hints at greatness and which will surely rank amongst the finest releases of the year come December.

Leaders Of The Free World is on V2

Originally published in Word Magazine 2005


What can I say? I was playing the vinyl of this the other night, having just listened to the deluxe edition of ‘Asleep In The Back’ and was reminded that they’ve always been great, it just took the public a while to pick up on that fact. The rather lovely Jude Rogers, who was my reviews editor at the time, was part of the judging team who gave the Mercury Music Prize to them for ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ and she later told me that after falling in love with their fourth album, she was reminded of me banging on about how great they were and that I was right all along. Quite so!