Gentle elegiac paean to a golden rock 'n' roll youth. The Granite Shore's debut LP breathes life back into the concept album.
Nothing quite heightens the poignancy of ageing as experiencing it as a member of a touring rock band. As fashions change and audiences move on for newer sounds, it's as if time's ravages are sharpened. A steep learning curve that shows how life can sometimes move on too quickly, leaving you longing for a recent past that seems like a long-lost golden age. Nowhere is this more the case than for those bands that only fleetingly taste a small amount of mid-level success.
These are the themes explored on Once More From The Top, the debut long player from The Granite Shore. Neatly divided into two halves with self-explanatory titles – In Public, and Behind The Scenes. Musically it's a gentle and understated affair, all slow tempos and muted brass, which along with vocalist/writer Nick Halliwell's closely miked, soft-sung vocals, enhance the album's sense of wistful longing.
The trials, tribulations, hard work and small victories of giving your all to make it in the music world make for good subject matter given Halliwell's literary bent and knack for capturing mood and spirit. Tales of music-biz rip-offs, band members' alcohol intake, and “one-night-stands across East Anglia” somehow sum up the limited, nuanced experiences of everyband.
Once More From The Top shares much with Ian Hunter's Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star, in that things that appear glamorous to the casual observer quite often aren't. Funny and sad in equal measures, its elegiac longing is tempered by wry, dry humour and priceless nail-on-the-head lyrics. The supposedly fictional experiences Halliwell sings of hint at the early '70s, a time when there really was money to be made in the music scene, when there was a thriving circuit of venues with supportive audiences. Over the album's course they also lament their slow decline. It will resonate with anyone who's experienced this either as a musician or a music fan. Enthusiasts of the concept album will also be glad to know that such a thing still exists.
Due for release in May on CD & LP. There are also plans for an accompanying book version.
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