Friday, July 27, 2012

Ginger Wildheart - 555%

Ginger Wildheart
Independent Release

Ginger Wildheart is an artist that has pretty much seen it all in the world of rock and roll. In his twenty years in the music business, Ginger has seen the highs, the lows and everything you could possibly imagine in-between within that time. But despite critical acclaim and the success he’s attained with his various musical endeavours, things were looking fairly bleak as little as a year ago. His group The Wildhearts had once again gone into an indefinite hiatus, and the prospect of doing the rounds of record labels to fund a new solo venture was far from appealing (So much so that Ginger was seriously considering taking a lengthy break from making music and taking up a day job to pay the bills). But salvation came from Ginger’s manager Gav McCaughey, who suggested that Ginger sign up with PledgeMusic – a website dedicated to giving fans the ability to help artists fund their musical projects directly, in exchange for exclusives and updates that wouldn’t otherwise be possible through more traditional means. The PledgeMusic concept appealed to Ginger, and in August 2011, Ginger announced his plans for a new musical project to fans – a triple album!
Never one to do things by halves, the prospect of a triple album appeared to be nothing short of commercial suicide – especially given the history surrounding double albums in general. But within six hours, the project had already reached its one hundred percent target (A new record for PledgeMusic). By the project’s completion, fans had pushed the pledges to five hundred and seventy percent (Hence giving the album its title). So even before ‘555%’ was released, you could say that it’s already been an overwhelming success.
So what about the album itself? Does it stack up against his first three solo releases (Especially 2008’s classic ‘Market Harbour’), or is ‘555%’ an incredible single album fleshed out with a whole lot of filler (Which is a fairly common complaint made of most double albums)?
Well in short, ‘555%’ is a great album, and simply a must have for any fan of Ginger’s vast body of solo work, and the kind of release that reinforces the notion that Ginger Wildheart is one of rock and roll’s greatest unsung heroes.
The first disc opens up with ‘Forget About It’, which is definitely an instant favourite with its huge choruses and melodic pop rock approach, while the infectious Ramones-like rocker ‘I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L R-adio’ (Which is the first of many tracks to feature Victoria Liedtke’s (We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It!!) angelic vocals and the slick sounding ‘Lie When You Tell Me The Truth’ could easily be released as singles in their own right.
‘Incidental Noises’ is a surprisingly experimental number that sees Ginger playing around with harmonies and mellow melodic elements over the power of the riff, while ‘It Appears That The Party Is Over’ is a dance floor based rocker that is sure to become a fan favourite.
There’s plenty of great songs on the first disc, but ‘Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus’ is an absolute classic. Full of riffs, twists and turns and filled to the brim with Ginger’s memorable melodies, this song is quite possibly the greatest song written by The Wildhearts (Apparently as far back as 2001) but never recorded.
Speaking of The Wildhearts, ‘Baby Skies’ and ‘Silence’ features a guest appearance from ex-The Wildhearts members guitarist/vocalist C.J and drummer Ritch Battersby, giving the songs a sound that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘iChutzpah!’ (2009), which earns both tracks their place alongside ‘Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus’ as hands down the strongest efforts on the first disc.
Finishing up the first disc is the melodic gem ‘Powderkeg’, and the epic ‘Time’, which is a great song the deals with the onset of age set against a soundtrack that’s wide in scope and sound. It’s not surprising to find that this track is one of Ginger’s favourites from the album.
‘Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow’ opens disc two with a funky/bass heavy/multilayered shout-out vocal driven sound that’s both fun and a little different for Ginger, while ‘Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)’ sees Ginger duet with Laila K (Sonic Boom Six) in what can be best described as a quirky pop tune that mixes heavy rock and subtle Caribbean influences and a gospel choir providing hand claps and backing vocals. But as confused as it sounds, Ginger makes it work wonders.
‘Do The Lonely Suffer More, Or Less, Or Just The Same At The Point Of Death?’ is a difficult track to describe with its disco like undertones, Devin Townsend sounding wall of sound and vocal harmonies that rival anything Brian Wilson created back in the ‘60’s. But what I can say is that it’s one of my favourites on the second disc.
The philosophical ‘The Other Side’ (Which again has Liedtke in a co-lead vocal role), the up-tempo feel good rocker ‘Strange New Year’ and the pop/rocker ‘Lover, It’ll All Work Out’ are all great tunes, and showcase a growing personal perspective in Ginger’s lyrics, while ‘Illuminating Times’ veers a little toward the darker side of the mind with its heavy lyrical tones, but not at the expense of its glorious choruses.
‘Begin From Within’ is another track that sees Ginger delve into the dance beats mixed with touches of industrial rock, but unlike the former tracks, the song takes a twist towards its latter half that’s sure to have fans singing along in no time.
In stark contrast, ‘Return Of The Northern Cardinal’ reveals a bit of a folk/country feel, and brings to mind some the sound that Ginger took on ‘Market Harbour’.
Finishing up the second disc is ‘Taste Aversion’, which is an amazing piece of progressive/avant-garde pop rock that sits alongside some of Ginger’s best solo work. Only Ginger could make the masses sing along to the chorus line of ‘Fucked from behind’ without giving it a second thought.
Moving onto disc three, the ridiculously titled ‘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)’ opens up the set in pseudo-The Wildhearts fashion with its hard rock/riff driven structures (I’m thinking something around 2003’s ‘The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed’), with ‘Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled’ following in similar sound and style (Which is not surprising given that C.J and Battersby appear on the track). ‘Confusion’ is another venture into the dance beats blended with Cheap Trick-like rock, and possibly the closest thing to filler on the triple album. The track isn’t so much horrible, but more a throwaway bit of repetitive fluff that pales against much of the rest of the album. The chilled out ‘Sleeping In The Light’ on the other hand is a mature piece of classy pop that boasts an incredible chorus. This one is a definite favourite.
The instrumental piece ‘In Vino Veritas’ (Latin for ‘In Wine There Is Truth’) is an interesting addition to the album with its dominate progressive rock elements, and brings to mind how ‘G.T.T.’ (From 2005’s ‘Valor Del Corazon’) allowed Ginger to not only showcase his musical prowess, but also how he can sometimes deliver something completely unexpected.
In complete contrast, ‘Very, Very Slow’ (A track that is dominated by bassist/vocalist ‘Random’ Jon Poole) is an eighty second punk/metal tune that may lack any real intelligence, but more than makes up for it in aggression and volume.
‘Just Another Song About Someone’ is a laid back and completely stripped back track that relies on simplicity to get its message across (Which it does perfectly I might add!), while ‘There Is Something Wrong With My Mind’ is a bizarre tune that mixes military sounding choruses, stirring orchestral backing and elements of pop within. It’s strange, compelling and twisted, but it all works somehow.
The short acoustic track ‘We’ve Been Expecting You’ is a personal favourite with its sparse instrumentation, cleverly timed hand claps, subtle percussion and its mellow vibe. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this tune turns out to be a rarely played gem on Ginger’s acoustic tours in time to come. Finishing up the album is the appropriately titled track ‘The End’. As you would expect, Ginger pulls out all the stops to create a fitting grand finale to proceedings. The track is part theatrical, symphonic and part epic, all of which come together to conclude the album in classic Ginger like fashion.
‘555%’ isn’t the kind of album that’s going to have much appeal for fans of The Wildhearts. If on the other hand you’re familiar with Ginger’s solo work, you’ll have an idea what Ginger’s latest effort has to offer musically (That’s everything imaginable, experimental and strange in sonic terms!). In other words, ‘555%’ is another classic offering from the legendary singer/songwriter, and a definite to-die-for release for fans.

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© Justin Donnelly

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