Ginger Wildheart, one of the UK’s cult heroes of rock and roll, has completed yet another album, his seventh in just two years. This platter is titled Albion, and is released through Round Records. The number of songs on the disc varies: if you contributed to his PledgeMusic campaign for this album, you’ll get 16 songs, and if you purchase the album at “retail”, you’ll get the version reviewed here: ten songs. Both versions have their merits; the ten-song disc is discussed here. Albion was recorded in Wales during the summer of 2013, and was recorded as a “full six-piece band” effort.
Someone said of Ginger… “he has so many melodies that it’s unfair.” He’s found that winning formula in hook-laden, modern, power-pop rock. Slick, catchy songwriting has been his modus operandi for years. Is Albion radically different? Perhaps it isn’t, perhaps it is. One of Ginger’s hallmarks is the exceptional vocal harmonies matched to catchy, melodic verses and choruses. That’s apparent throughout the disc – not a single tune lacks in that department. Some effects on the vocals at times vary the straightforward solo lead vocal, either male or female, with crazy-good multi-part harmony delivery. That’s especially apparent during “The Order Of The Dog”, “After All You Said About Cowboys”, and “Creepers”.
“Drive” features key modulation as well as tempo shifts. The tune fiddles with several different guitar tones, evoking a driving journey, pun intended. “Cambria” pays homage to the heavier or more extreme side of things, with a tone and tempo reminiscent of old-school, underground punk: real punk rock, not the radio-friendly pop re-packaged as ‘punk’ in the late 1990’s. “Grow A Pair” has a house or rave sounding intro section, but the facade drops quickly in to very pleasing rock, meandering off in to highly experimental tones. “Burn This City Down” manipulates time and tempo, and then surprises with very strong power-pop choruses. “The Order Of The Dog” is a strange, near-dissonant tune, easygoing and quirky or even retro-industrial at the same time. “Body Parts” is one of those sparse, super catchy pop tunes, with pronounced keyboard accents. “The Beat Goes On (Caledonia)” is another catchy power-pop tune, and it builds on the mood created in “Body Parts”, crunching it up a little. How many non-choral bands offer a four-plus part, genuine vocal harmony these days?! “…Caledonia” additionally boasts a steady rock backbone, beautifully textured by different guitar, keyboard, and vocal tones. “After All You Said About Cowboys” is a sparse, melodic, British pop tune, mellow and pretty. And it has a guitar solo, nicely executed! The more uptempo “Creepers” has a chorus of heaviness, and the recording exploits ‘true stereo’ by panning the vocals around whimsically. “Albion”, the closing track on this version of the album, is a longer song with several distinct parts. “Albion”‘s first part is unaffected, simple, and fairly laid back. The second part is more funky, and the third contains an ethereal, almost floating segue in to heaviness. There are lots of instrumental segments in “Albion”, the song serving to encapsulate some of Ginger’s influences, and emphasize the ‘full band effort’ character of the release. It’s the little subtleties that really build these tunes – the production and overlay or layering on each song is as good as the previous.
It’s not a jazz record, or blues, or heavy metal. It does what it does, and it does it well. Ginger has blended punk and a medley of rock flavors: pop, surf, classic, hard… and released a full-bodied rollercoaster of an album, packed with tunes that are guaranteed to get happily stuck in your head. Simply perusing the cover, how can you not love the yawning lion? One thing that can be appreciated about Ginger’s current work, as well as his back catalog, is that he’s not re-inventing the wheel – what he’s doing is sticking to his brand, his formula which has worked for years. These are rock tunes, played with both intensity and FUN. Albion is very enjoyable listening, and comes highly recommended for fans of power pop, pop-punk, and of course, Ginger and The Wildhearts!
Grow A Pair
Burn This City Down
The Order Of The Dog
The Beat Goes On (Caledonia)
After All You Said About Cowboys
Ginger Wildheart – Vocals/Guitar
Victoria Liedtke – Vocals (Hey! Hello!)
Rich Jones – Guitar/Vocals (ex Amen/Black Halos)
Chris Catalyst – Guitar/Vocals (Eureka Machines)
“Random” Jon Poole – Bass/Vocals (Cardiacs/The Wildhearts)
Dean “Denzel” Pearson – Drums (Losers/Young Legionnaire)
Bryan Scary – Keys/Strings/Vocals (From NYC’s Evil Arrows/Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears)