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Monday, 2 July 2012

Ginger Wildheart - 555%

I remember when the Clash released Sandinista!
That huge, and flawed, treble album of experimental muscle flexing that pushed the boundaries of punk.
While it drew plenty of critical praise for attempting to deliver a potpourri of genres, while retaining the character of the Clash, it also left many fans considering it to be too large a portion to devour all at once without it repeating on them like aural indigestion.
In hindsight it's an album that lends itself to being dipped into, and not one that should be approached in one sitting.
The reason I mention the Clash album is because as soon as I pledged to buy the self released Ginger Wildheart treble album the spirit of Sandinista visited me like a Dickensian ghost to point out everything that could go wrong with the idea.
Like a black cloud it followed me around coaching caution even as the video updates from the Ginger Wildheart camp flowed in with reassuring regularity.
No matter how often we pledger's were invited behind the scenes to see how the album was progressing I couldn't shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, like the trailer for a Hollywood blockbuster we were getting to see all the best bits.
Thankfully the progress of the album ran smoothly and we investors who showed faith didn't have to fret about breakdowns in communication between the musicians, breaks to recharge batteries, or weeks of zero information being released that would lend itself to chipping away at the trust placed in the project.
Instead from the outside looking in it was plain sailing all the way and the album was delivered as promised leaving us with just one thing to consider.
And that's is it any good?
It could be easy to be distracted by the media circus that has sprung up around it.
The press are loving the David and Goliath aspects of the release.
With one mighty swing Ginger has launched a copy of 555% from his catapult and lodged it in the eye of the mighty behemoth that is the record industry.
Yet if we ignore all that and focus on the album the question of 'is it any good' still hovers there demanding to be answered, and the answer is that it isn't just good, but it's damn good.
It's not just a triumphant middle fingered salute at the major labels, but also a stand alone work that's verging on genius.
Over the course of the three discs the music touches on the eclectic tastes of Ginger while maintaining pop driven hooks that enable it to be a hugely accessible listening experience.
This is his shiny pop album, and within the framework of that he visits the sounds of rockers like Cheap Trick, ELO, Sparks and Queen, the global big hitters like the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel and embraces rap, funk, post punk electronica, and even some hints of world music, while throughout maintaining the spirit of his band The Wildhearts.
It delivers on every promise he made about this release, and every unsaid promise that his previous material has hinted at.
If anyone doubted that Ginger could release a single solid pop album, then this treble disc affair is his coup de grace to the non believers.
By gently, and comfortably, pushing at the boundaries - instead of taking a blitzkrieg approach - he's held it all together and by-passed the problems that Sandinista had, and instead of going hell for leather to mess with your head it challenges expectations without leaving a bruise to the psych.
It's as clever as it is entertaining and I suspect that right now Ginger is sitting somewhere and wondering if this is all a dream that he will wake up from.
If so, then someone lean over and nip him, look him in the eye and say 'you did fuckin did it'.
The future is bright, the future is Ginger (sic)  

How it all began.

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