Friday, May 13, 2016

Wreckless Eric - CD

Another act that I caught at this year's Mess Around was Wreckless Eric, doing a terrific solo act. Of course, that made me want to pull out this CD when I got home - the reissue of his first album with Stiff Records.

As with his live show, this record opens with the fantastic "Reconnez Cherie", a near perfect pop tune done in his unique style - weirdly eccentric vocals, mid-tempo, almost-reggae groove and interesting instrumentation, including accordion and saxophone. The fast-paced, wacky, yakkety-sax-driven "Rags and Tatters" sounds like it could have appeared on a Benny Hill episode while "Waxworks" is a driving number that, oddly, reminds me a bit of Roxy Music! "Telephoning Home" isn't quite as memorable as some of his, but Eric fluctuates between a melodic croon and a vicious growl here, and he dabbles more with reggae rhythms in "Grown Ups", which also has mighty guitar and sax solos.

Probably his best known song is "Whole Wide World", and deservedly so! Catchy beyond words, supremely clever lyrics, great playing (certainly sounds like Nick Lowe on bass on this one, and even seems to have some of his arrangement/production techniques), fine use of dynamics and a steady, bouncy groove. Many people have covered, but his original has his irrepressible spirit! Ian Dury's "Rough Kids" follows, "Personal Hygiene" is a goofy, ballady ode to...well, yes, cleanliness, "Brain Thieves" again has some similarities to Roxy Music and is pretty damn powerful and the vinyl version appropriately concluded with the incessant "There Isn't Anything Else".

But there is (something else) on the CD reissue! Another classic, "Semaphore Signals", was left off the original record, which this rectifies. An excellent song in the same vein as "Reconnez Cherie" and "Whole Wide World" - up there with his best! It seems that a number of their artists did tribute songs to the label and the two versions of "Be Stiff" here are fairly heavy rockers - I am tempted to guess that Larry Wallis is playing guitar on this (copping a bit of "Purple Haze" at one point). Very cool and this shows the width and breadth of the sounds they put out!

I really love the 70's Stiff Records catalog and this is another unique stand-out among all of their unique artists.