Having already done The Wildhearts Discography, I promised to do a similar post for frontman Ginger. So here it is. If The Wildhearts are one of the most underappreciated acts in British rock music, then Ginger’s solo output is hard to even define in those terms as it doesn’t even get the attention that his band get, but is just as impressive. Oh well, here we go…
Clam Abuse – Stop Thinking (1999)
One of his earliest projects was Clam Abuse, a duo he put together with Alex Kane, who went on to be in AntiProduct. They called themselves Clam Savage and Clint Abuse and made a completely mental album of country music, dance music, rock music, opera, Partridge Family covers and the sound of buttock-drumming. When it works, it’s flipping amazing and the closing two tracks are both very much what you’d hope for from a Ginger release. The only downside is that some of it sounds like it was more fun to record than listen to, but it’s still a very worthwhile addition.
Silver Ginger 5 – Black Leather Mojo (2000)
His next project was a much more straightforward one for Wildhearts fans to latch onto, a glam-rock-stomping album and a band featuring future Wildheart bassist Random Jon Poole and Hanoi Rocks guitarist Conny Bloom. Except it wasn’t really a ‘band’ and Ginger made most of the music himself. Whatever, it certainly worked a treat, with some older songs given a bombastic re-recording (Church Of The Broken Hearted being a perfect example) and packed in alongside great new songs, all louder and more packed full of goodness and Vitamin C than anything else released at the time. Obviously it didn’t make any waves outside his own fanbase, but it’s still a cracker.
A Break In The Weather (2005)
After Silver Ginger 5 and before the reformation of The Wildhearts, Ginger embarked upon an ambitious and ultimately-doomed venture of releasing a new single every month for a year. It would be easier now, with downloads and suchlike, but he managed to release only five of the 12 before the project collapsed. However, there was a hell of a lot of good music there, so happily it was all collated on this double album, also including the sixth single, which was recorded but not released. All the b-sides are here too and there’s not really any weak tracks, with I’m A Lover Not A Fighter, The Saga Of Me And You and Cars And Vaginas right up there with his best.
Valor Del Corazon (2005)
Later that year, Ginger released another double album of quality tunes, this time new material and originally on a limited release (it came out ‘properly’ in 2006). Produced by Endless Nameless producer Ralph Jezzard and credited to Ginger And The Sonic Circus (the name of his band following the 2005 Wildhearts split) its title kind of means ‘Strength of heart’ in Spanish and is musically full of strength and heart. It’s not quite as musically diverse as some of his later albums, but is astonishingly consistent and certainly better than The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed.
Howling Willie Cunt – World Of Filth (2006)
Of course, officially, Ginger isn’t Howling Willie Cunt, but it doesn’t make much of a leap of faith to believe that there are similarities. Of course, he’d already done comedy country with Clam Abuse, but while Unlucky In Love was both very funny lyrically and impressive musically, World Of Filth, well, isn’t. It’s deliberately written to be as offensive as possible, as you’ll guess from the artist’s name and song titles like Homosexual Punchbag In A Wheelchair and Nine Coloured Spastics On A Meat Hook. The problem is that it’s not funny enough to get away with it and the music is too throwaway to make repeat listens worthwhile.
Ginger’s next solo album was a very ambitious affair, scaling down the number of tracks but throwing in lots more ideas and allowing some of the best ones to run on for up to eight minutes. He also manages to write a song to his son without it being horrendous, and it’s that one that is the longest and most impressive on the whole album. Smile In Denial is also fantastic, another epic and another one with lyrics that cut close to the bone from Ginger’s personal life at the time. The inventiveness also shows through in Can’t Drink You Pretty, which throws a curveball with interpolations of In The Mood and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, while Why Can’t You Be Normal All The Time is an anthem for bewildered men everywhere. It all adds up to an album even better than Valor Del Corazon.
Market Harbour – 2008
The only solo album of his career to be come while The Wildhearts were actually together, Market Harbour came smack bang in-between the self-titled album and ¡Chutzpah!, but shows no signs of being a throwaway. For one thing, it doesn’t sound much like either, and very much fits into the sound that Ginger had established for himself as a solo artist. It’s jam-packed with tracks and is full of all kinds of different sounds, particularly as the album progresses, with tracks like You And Me (That’s What I Want) sounding a world away from what he was doing with his day job band at the time. Again, it’s another wildly inventive and entertaining release from a hugely underrated artist.
Alice Cooper was on The One Show earlier this week, something that is always an odd experience for anyone as famous as he is, having to sit there through all kinds of inanities waiting to get asked random questions by Matt Baker and Alex Jones in the hope of promoting some new product. I was quite excited when I saw him there, thinking that new album Welcome 2 My Nightmare would be coming out soon, but sadly I see the release date for that has slipped back to 2012.