O.K, So we have all heard the one about the guy who heads
off on the hippy trail, to a sun kissed beach hut somewhere on the Indian
sub-continent in a desperate attempt to 'find his inner self'. Well this record
is about two guys who followed that trail, not in any mis-guided quest involving
meditation, chanting and chilling, but simply because going off to India sounded
like a bit of a laugh. Saying that, founder 'Geezer' Barnaby Reynolds does let
the façade slip a little when he declares that it is a record to "transport you
out of your normal frame of reference, to take you out of yourself for a bit".
It's bordering on hippy, it's hinting of an illegal indulgence, but it's right;
there is certainly an illusion created by this record, and indeed, here in north
Manchester, on a cold, wet, dreary night, with the onset of winter so obvious,
this record exudes an air of cool summer evenings, on the soft white sands of a
sub-tropical beach. The warm sea breeze gently wafts the palms, and all is
soothed..."it's about escapism" Barnaby follows up, "whether it's jumping on a
plane or putting on a Walkman when you're on the tube..."
There are different records for different things, different
days, different moods, and different uses. It's not always easy to pin-point
what certain music is for, but with 'Songs on The Radio' it's blatantly obvious.
This is music to put your feet up to, at the end of a long day, at the close of
a long night, this album is the perfect soundtrack to relax to. That's not to
say it's overly laid back - it is laid back, but it's also melodic, relaxed and
perhaps most importantly thoroughly uplifting.
Kicking off with 'Rush Hour Blues', a short blast of
ethereal ethnicity, mixing heavenly layered vocal harmonies with structured drum
machine rhythms, it's the point where for a split second cultures collide,
listen once and it really does sound like some form of ethnic folk, listen
again, and it's up to the moment dance. It's over far too soon, but it has
indelible set the scene for the album. 'Day In, Day Out' is tinged with more of
a pop-rock element, the harmonised vocals are still present, as are the
relentless, almost tribal rhythms which become somewhat more westernised with
the addition of guitars with and a lyrical tale of everyday city life somewhere
between The Kinks and Damon Albarn.
'Gold Rush' pushes us even further away from the delicate
ethnicity of the opening, it's a pure out and out dance rock thrill, complete
with rock out drums, falsetto vocals, trombone solo, and a guitar vs.
synthesiser wig out to drive it along. 'Coming Home' immediately imposes a
return to the slower, more laid back acoustic based genre of the earlier tracks.
Lyrically these are great songs, everyday tales of ordinary life, presented
beautifully against a backdrop of far from ordinary music. The lazy acoustics
are underpinned by insistent brass, which itself is decorated with the
meandering vocal lines. Following this is 'Car Song' with builds to a slow
crescendo before fading out like the last embers of a dying star.
'6 A.M.' swings from a slow grower, to an unabashed rock
workout, and back again to some kind of brass against guitar fist fight. It's
the closest to schizophrenia that a song could possibly be before it loses all
sense of structure. It's perilously close to the edge, there is just so much
going on, it's fucking brilliant. The lyrics again are a key point with 'The
Geegees', a tale of two sisters who live with an addiction to gambling on the
horses. They know it, and they live with it.
'Hard Bloke' and 'So What' follow, with more of the same,
clever structured musical combinations, and cutting, incisive lyrics. They keep
the tempo up and the inane grin on your face, it's impossible to keep still with
this record, it's infectious, it really does get at you, in a good way of
The centrepiece of the record however is the title track
'Songs on The Radio', coming in at just short off eleven minutes it provides us
with what can only be described as an epic. This is the one which features the
'sunglasses, coconut oil bloke' from the beach in India, it is the one that it
has all been building up to, it tells us about it being the time to leave behind
the 'Bakerloo rush hour blues', it suggests that we should perhaps live our
lives like the songs on the radio. All those sonic tales of perfection, the
perfect boy and the perfect girl, the perfect life, the one that's always seemed
that little bit unattainable. This song reaffirms the mantra - go out and get it
kid. It's a slinky, swaggering, dirty, soulful slab of real life amongst the
aforementioned fantasy projections, which suddenly swings mid-song and turns a
corner into a swooning acoustic lead ballad that almost fades and dies like the
last hopeful gasp of the hedonist finally brought back to earth from his
Finally, closing the album is 'Sunglasses', again featuring
our sub-continental beach vendor - don't get me wrong, it's far from a novelty
record, just a song that a bunch of lads wrote about a great summer they spent
somewhere in the sun.
It sounds like they enjoyed it.
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