BLACK LEATHER MOJO – EXPANDED EDITION - Silver Ginger 5 (Castle)
A BREAK IN THE WEATHER - Ginger (Castle)
Although he’s been known to guzzle booze until it runs out of his ears, dreaming of heaven while drowning in Newcastle Brown, no one can ever accuse tireless and reliable Wildhearts front man Ginger of sloth, the self-proclaimed workaholic maintaining a steady regimen of side projects perhaps meant to take his mind off his day job: breaking the Wildhearts in America, no small feat thus far but we’re a little slow on the uptake over here in America (see also The Jam, Slade, Manic Street Preachers, and Sparks). The band’s detractors see them as about as smart as two slices of bologna rubbing together on dry bread, but the faithful are as dedicated to them as some people are to wearing clean underwear in the event of a car wreck.
For some unfathomable reason, Ginger laments the irritatingly catchy choruses that seem to permeate every song he writes like dirt on a dog yet
continues to wedge one into just about everything he touches. I personally want to thank Jesus Christ for putting the guy on the planet since those
hooks are precisely what make the Wildhearts the tatterdemalion savants they are. Silver Ginger 5 was birthed (breech no doubt) in the wake of yet another Wildhearts implosion following the release of the dragged-naked-over-sharp-rocks-and-beaten-with-logs "Endless Nameless" album. Ex-Electric Boys guitarist Conny Bloom dropped an unsolicited love letter and cassette to Ginger in the post expressing his desire to start a band with him and with the addition of bassist Jon Poole and drummer Andy Selway, the rest was, as they say, history.
"Black Leather Mojo," originally released back in 2001, now gets the expanded, bonus disc treatment that vinyl purists decry as a curse and the
digital demimonde see as a boon. Depending on the day/mood/artist in question, I usually straddle the fence, but with anything bearing traces of
Wildhearts DNA, too much of a good thing just ain’t part of the equation. Fans of the claustrophobic grinding white noise on display in "Endless Nameless" may do well to steer clear of "Black Leather Mojo" since Ginger apparently decided a return to world beating, anthemic songs with huge
climactic crescendos in spades was in order and the results easily stand up to most anything the Wildhearts have dreamed up since their debut "Earth
Vs. The Wildhearts." Not to worry, he’s still cooking with gas.
At times, Silver Ginger 5 seem to carry the entire history of glam rock on their collective back, whether it be the revved-up, red-lining intro chords
to the strutting "Sonic Shake" which kicks the album off with nods to Marc Bolan and Mick Ronson, or the Slade-like stomp and gang choruses on "Girls Are Better Than Boys." "Divine Imperfection," "Brain Sugar," and "(Whatever Happened To) Rock ‘N’ Roll Girls" are saddled with those
confounded hooks that are the bane of Ginger’s existence, while "Church Of The Broken Hearted" is (gulp!) downright Beatlesque.
As for the two Japanese version bonus tracks, "Doggin’" veers dangerously close to swirling psychedlia and the cover of Bee Gees chestnut "To Love
Somebody" is almost too faithful to the original. The bonus disc gathers live electric tracks (including only the second cover of Cheap Trick’s
"He’s A Whore" I’ve ever heard - the other being that from Big Black), part of an extremely sloppy and drunken (read "great") acoustic set, complete with two Adam Ant covers, Wildhearts staples like "Love U Til I Don’t," "I Wanna Go Where The People Go," and "Greetings From Shitsville," and that
strange and quite frankly annoying soccer chanting/singing shit Pommie audiences are famous for, and three demos. All in all, another nice
package from the folks at Castle who are quickly building quite a reputation for this sort of thing, closing the gap on those bastards at
Rhino who deserve to burn in hell for making me buy much of my music collection two or three times over.
Besides the occasionally hummable melody, it seems Ginger also has an innate fear of periods of downtime, preferring to "use ‘em up and get rid
of ‘em" before the Goat Lord co-opts them for his own evil devices, most likely something involving pubs, pints, and puerility.
Back in 2001, shortly after the "Black Leather Mojo" sessions, the dreadlocked one hatched a plan designed to either test his mettle or combat
his boredom: record 12 three-song singles and release them in regular monthly intervals over a 12-month period. So he rounded up Poole (again)
and Wildhearts trap man Stidi as passengers on what from all accounts was a boozy although magical and enthusiastic search for the holy grail.
In the end though, the wheels came after Infernal Records inexplicably put the project on hold and then pulled the plug on it forever after only five
singles (and their attendant B-sides) were in the can. Nothing ever changes but the shoes...
"A Break In The Weather" is Castle’s way of throwing a bone to Wildhearts fans without the time or resources to track down copies of those original five singles (that would be, uh, me) by presenting them here in one tidy 2-disc package and it’s not long before the realization sinks in that this ain’t your brother’s Ginger.
S ure, "I’m A Lover Not A Fighter" and "Thailand Uber Alles" will warm the hearts of those familiar with the sound of our hero letting off steam, while "Cars & Vaginas" fits like a cracked leather jacket, stopping at Sparks’ "Over The Summer" for spare parts along the way. "And This Time I’m Serious" is vibrant with the unmistakable sound of a guy who’s clearly been smitten but not enough to distract him from the business at hand; hook management and multi-tasking.
But with songs like "Not Bitter, Just A Little Disappointed," with its drowsy, almost atsmospheric verses, "Reinventing The Wheel," and "Don’t Let
Me Die Lonely," Ginger unveils some of the flux his personal life has seen, some of it teeming with dope, pills, and stale dinners. And while
those who are warm and cozy with the turbulent and often volatile roller coaster rides the Wildhearts are notorious for laying down on whatever it
is CD’s are made of may be slightly unsettled by some of it, but there’s no denying the guy has a way with music and words.- Clark Paull
Black Leather Mojo:
Break In The Weather:
RIFF AFTER RIFF - The Wildhearts (Gearhead)
The re-born Wildhearts are a major ear-opener for me. Blending a range of influences such as Motorhead, Metallica, KISS, The Hellacopters, The Backyard Babies and Cheap Trick, they manage to come up with an album that captures something from all of the above, yet has its own character.
One of Britain’s best-loved and most notorious rock bands, The Wildhearts are making their first venture onto a US label since their 1993 debut “Earth Vs. The Wildhearts”. Since then The Wildhearts have garnered a large and loyal fan base in the U.K., Australia and Japan, and recent tours with The Darkness and Motorhead have only enhanced their live reputation. (ED: They blew out a tour with The Dragons to do The Darkness dates - the former would have been a far more interestring ride).
"Stormy in the North, Karma in the South" is the opener and shows a band that can slash and burn as well as The Hellacopters and the Backyard Babies, but with a touch of something more thanks to dual lead vocals and big harmonies.
"Looking for the One" is another highlight and a great mix of punk and metal sounds "'Better Than Cable" adds killer powerpop hooks. "Move On" highlightsd the Wildhearts' grasp of dynamics as they lift and drop volume and tempo.
The Wildhearts mix of glam, punk and metal with memorable twin lead vocals. "Riff after Riff" will win you. - Simon Li
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