[The Mail On Sunday, 2005]
ROCK'N'ROLL HAS ALWAYS flourished most vigorously in the care of outsiders. People who were supposed to be doing something else. It's all but unteachable. Technique can be transmitted, formulae too; but not the unruly spirit that distinguishes it from light entertainment. That's why, for instance, Keane are Keane, while Kenny Anderson is King Creosote (Brighton Hanbury Arms Ballroom ****).
From the North-Eastern fringe of Britain, a fair bit of which seems to hang over his furry face, KC is a wry, shaggy, genial presence, here performing under the banner of the Twisted Folk tour (although in his case, a more apt label might be “Psyceilidhdelia”.) There are no fingers in ears - his band's, or the audience's. Put it this way: any man who can make you pleased to see his accordion possesses strange charms indeed.
This show offers the refreshing, ever rarer experience of music both original and good. KC's songs wear their hearts on their home-knit sleeves. The sweet, looping, off-kilter Not One Bit Ashamed and the drolly dirty subverted Muzak of Bootprints, both from the marvellous recent album KC Rules OK, resemble nothing from the doctrinaire folk revival, and little else besides. 678, an anti-My Way for those lacking in bluster, closes the set in a squall of noise fearsome enough to curdle real ale.
There is, I suppose, no force on Earth that will stop Kubb outselling King Creosote by a ratio of several hundred to one. Mainman Harry Collier is undeniably a chap of certain gifts, and if Mother (Mercury *) isn't a James Blunt-size success, then its hats on dinner plates all round. I found it excruciating, myself - obvious, vainglorious, smarmily over-emotive, witlessly big and anthemic. The perfect record for the current “indie” market, then. Mother is the sound of boxes being ticked, loudly and at some expense.
Get Rich Or Die Trying OST (G-Unit ***) shouldn't be confused with 50 Cent's eponymous 2003 breakthrough record. Technically a soundtrack, it's a new 50 album in all but name, and a marked improvement on March's dreary The Massacre. Perhaps it's the effect of writing for a film loosely based (8 Mile/Eminem-style) on his life, but 50 sounds thoughtful and expressive, two qualities that you'd never have attributed to him previously. He's greatly helped by a series of producers and collaborators who this time around deliver the goods.
It's not usually this column's business to deal with reissues by well remembered, successful bands. But amid the repackaging of Eurythmics' entire catalogue, Savage (RCA *****) deserves a second look. Misplaced between two stilted, rockier LPs, it was in 1988 a record out of time, unfashionably recrafting their earlier electropop sound to fit a clutch of superb, austere, alkaline songs. In retrospect, it stands out as their best album by far.
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