Fuel2000/True North TND 235.
Running time: 56m 47s
Ian's first studio album since The Artful Dodger finds him in a determined mood with a lot to say. Always at his best when he feels he has something to say, Ian is on the warpath with this one, his most politically charged in over 25 years. And boy has he delivered, an album that will stand the test of time mixing belting rockers with poingant ballads.
Opening track Still Love Rock 'n' Roll is a nod to the music that inspired Ian in the first place, a great mid-tempo rocker, Chuck Berry meets Little Richard covering all points in between but with a fresh perspective. I can see this being in the live set for years to come. Wash Us Away is a great slower number that grows on you, you'll soon find yourself humming the tune when you're busy doing something else.
Death Of A Nation is next, some of you may remember it from last year's tour. Almost folkish in places with acoustic guitar, Ian laments the decline of the England that (WW2 leader) Churchill would have known, and has a message for the politicians responsible for it all: "But you've been getting away with it for far too long/Your promises ain't worth the paper they're written on". In terms of pace and delivery it is reminiscent of God (Take 1), I can see it becoming another live favourite.
Morons is an up-tempo rocker, with plenty of piano, reminiscent musically of Marionette and lyrically Crash Street Kidds where Ian positively spits venom at the politicians and media for treating people like... well, morons: "Read moron newspapers, watch moron television... Etonians, Harovians think they're the chosen ones", and later "Look at those morons! They do nothing but whine and they're slow all the time... We can leave 'em behind, while we're dumbing them down we'll be robbing them blind!"
The subject of the high cost of living in England crops up again later, like in American Spy where Ian notes "Always in the red, never in the black/You make a bit of money and they take it all back/This ain't no way to spend the rest of my life" and in the more obvious Ripoff: "I really don't know why England's such a ripoff" and, he notes, "Some day you might win the lottery/Some day you might win the pools/But that's all you've got to live for" which for an awful lot of people isn't to far from the truth.
But it isn't all political, as Ian shows time and again he can write beautiful ballads that hit the emotional nail right on the head, such as Knees Of My Heart ("Slipped the ring on your finger/It's still there to this day" and "Honest and faithful, loyal and true/Where would I be if it were not for you".
Soap 'n' Water is direct and to the point, being directed at someone else entirely: "I can't believe what you did, you know how to hurt/All you do is drag old memories through the dirt".
This is a CD that takes a couple of plays to hit you (Ian never makes it easy for his fans!). But believe me, there is quality and depth here that will reward repeated playing. The (US) CD comes with an insert that folds out to reveal full lyrics and musician credits - I can only assume the UK CD will do likewise. All in all, highly recommended.Adrian Perkins