Sunday, 21 July 2013

'California Star' by Martin Stephenson & the Daintees

When Tom Watson MP recently resigned as Ed Miliband's election coordinator he sent an open letter to Ed giving his reasons and offering some brotherly advice. He told Ed that it was a shame that a leader of Her Majesty's opposition couldn't go to Glastonbury. He also recommended that Ed should check out an awesome band, Drenge.
Now I don't really know Drenge very well, although I will do soon because I'm going to see them live in October, largely as a result of Tom's nod. But this started me thinking that if I were to write an open letter to Ed, who would I recommend as musical mentors to the potential future PM? (Gordon Brown of course once famously and implausibly declared his love for The Arctic Monkeys. David Cameron, even more implausibly told us he was a Smiths' fan.)
My imaginary open letter to Ed would recommend that he go away for the parliamentary summer break and listen to Martin Stephenson & the Daintees. I'm absolutely certain he'd come back a more effective leader of the opposition and a more rounded human being to boot.
I was extremely lucky recently to be able to listen to an advance copy of ‘California Star’ the latest album by the pork-pie hatted poet and his friends. I’m pleased to report that it finds the boys in customary fine form.
As usual, Martin’s winning combination of vulnerability and humour are well to the fore, and the album’s high points are many and scattered liberally throughout.
I’d particularly point you in the direction of ‘Long way to go’, which begins with Martin asking for a ‘cornet with a flake in the top’ and progresses via a very good line in mouth organ (I’d usually refer to it as a harmonica of course, but pop the word ‘organ’ into a blog and you just get more readers. Don’t ask me why). It’s a track that’s bound to become a great live favourite.
‘Sweet Cherwine’ is a Daintees’ song as only they know how, which conjures up mental pictures of dungarees and porch swings. And ‘Boy to Man’ is a tremendous campfire type song (not to be confused with ‘The Crazy world of Arthur Brown’s camp ‘Fire’ song).
The best is saved ‘til last though. ‘I’m in love for the first time’ is white reggae which even boldly and successfully strays toward ‘dub’. There are one hundred reasons why it shouldn’t work, but it does work and it works wonderfully and it’s a very fitting high point on which to end the album.
So, Ed, if you find yourself with some time on your hands this summer then why not grab yourself a copy of ‘California Star’. You might like to recommend it to Tom Watson too.
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