Good Friday is a curiously-named Bank Holiday, given that we get the day off work because someone died (for a few days anyway). But this particular Good Friday is tinged with both excitement and sorrow, because another ten tracks from Ginger’s 555% album have been released, but they’re the final ten tracks. Next Friday is going to be Bad Friday, but there’ll still be 30 great songs to listen to. So onwards with a very ‘first reactions’ review.
I’ve written enough about the merits of the project in my reviews of Disc One and Disc Two, so I won’t repeat myself drooling over PledgeMusic this time, not when there’s song titles like You’re The One, You’re The One, Yeah I Know You’re The One, You’re The One (Yeah I Know You’re The One) to deal with. Already familiar to Pledgers as it was given away on Valentine’s Day as a taster for what we’d be getting from the album, it makes for a slightly underwhelming start to the disc for that reason, certainly compared to the insane wonders of Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow.
Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled is much better though, even if the lyrics do perhaps overshare a little at one point. But while You’re The One (etc) maybe falls a bit too far on the side of too sweet, there’s real muscle to the second track as well as typically great Ginger melodies. More of the experimental side of Disc Two comes through on Confusion, which mixes dance beats with Cheap Trick power pop and while it’s light and fluffy, I think it works a lot better than the opener and is one of my favourites from the project (based on a first listen, obviously).
Another instant hook is found in Sleeping In The Light, a very different kind of song from what we’ve heard from Ginger before. It’s got an ‘everything plus the kitchen sink’ kind of production, an incredibly catchy guitar line early on and a memorable chorus that sets it up as a sophisticated power ballad. Kind of. Next up are classic Ginger numbers in that one is very long and one is very short. In Vino Veritas is the long one and starts off how Wildhearts fans love, packed full of riffs and the first time you hear it, you wonder if there’s going to be any vocals at all.
Other than a burst of choral voices, there aren’t, and the riffs don’t last more than a few minutes, replaced by a more unconventional fretboard workout. It’s maybe not to everyone’s tastes, but I enjoyed it, and the freedom this project has given him to try things like that makes it more interesting than if it had been another Sky Babies or Inglorious. Very, Very Slow is a bit of a throwaway track that flies past at an ironically fast pace without leaving much impact. But you can get away with that on a three-disc album that’s as good as this one.
And when you follow it with a lovely (actually slow) track like Just Another Song About Someone, which is like a more subtle version of Sleeping In The Light. One of my favourite things about Ginger’s solo career has been his ability to write wonderful songs like that without having to worry about what people expect from him. There Is Something Wrong With My Mind is a very Ginger-esque song title, but the Something Weird this time is out of his head and into the music, as it veers around musical styles like a mini Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s one of those experiments that could have gone badly wrong, but works.
So, onto the last two tracks of the epic 555% project, with a heavy heart. We’ve Been Expecting You is a great mellow acoustic folky singsong with some Phil Spector-ish clipclops in the background. You can certainly see it going down well as a closer for his acoustic tours and his vocals sound great on it. Obviously, the last track is called The End and as it explodes into glittering guitar fireworks before its abrupt halt, it’s a fitting finale to an album that goes off in all kinds of directions while maintaining that essential melodic and rocking quality that we all love to hear from one of the most consistently interesting figures in British rock music over the last few decades.
Few words strike as much fear into the hearts of music fans as ‘feat’. Unfortunately, it’s a word that appears all too often in the tracklisting for Folila, the new album by Amadou & Mariam, which is another example of exactly why it’s such a dreaded word.