When we talk about punk today, and our magazine does like to talk about punk off and on (!), then there are some great new bands around. Try looking at our recent features on The Last Gang or The Bombpops, for example. Just reading about the current punk scene shows how vibrant it is.
But where would these acts be without the fathers of punk? And one of the biggest and most influential names in the punk world out there is Hugh Cornwell. If you need a name check, he was the leader of The Stranglers. Hugh was the main songwriter of all the band’s most memorable songs across ten stellar albums. Their 1977 debut “Rattus Norvegicus” – featuring seminal songs “Peaches,” “(Get A) Grip, (On Yourself),” and more – and follow-up albums “No More Heroes,” “Black and White,” “The Raven” and “The Gospel According To The Men In Black” –which Hugh cites as his favourite Stranglers album – consolidated Cornwell’s stature as a unique songwriter and musician.
Hugh Cornwell’s “Moments of Madness,” comes out on HIS records on October 21. I was pleased to listen to this acerbic, perceptive album that lyrically hits the mark time-and-time again. The production deliberately strips down the sound and brings up the vocals. Check out “Red Rose” for the wistful side of the album. This track looks back to the blues, giving it a twist for today. Cornwell plays all the instruments himself, and creates a minimalist creation, post-modern punk and blues for The Stranglers generation.
The song “Moments of Madness” is about pain, but it doesn’t have the humor of Queen’s “I’m Going Slightly Mad.” This is far more within the asylum and born from society’s decline, rather than an attempt to smile at the insanity around us. The mantra of madness becomes a chant, a descent to insanity.
My favourite was “I wanna hide inside Aya” which is a lean back to a more fierce drum sound, the beat carrying forward the more despairing lyrics toward the live stage. With the live tour on the way as well, this one has to be on the menu.
We’ve put up, below, the links to two tracks, both musically interesting – and with little musical twists and turns. This is a pattern for the album, where the upbeat music is juxtaposed with the more sombre lyrical content, Cornwell may feel he is no longer a young man, but the instrumentalism lifts the message. All music draws from emotion, which is why the blues are infused in music of all traditions. The lyrics on this album are blues, but the tempo gives it a more upbeat feel. In troubled times, it is able to make me sway to the beat.
“Beware of the Doll” is interesting!
She’s looking like she’s eating cake
She’s hooking you from cross the lake
Beware of the doll
Beware of the doll.
I think in today’s culture and times, beware of who the doll may be is not a bad message. It is one of those songs I’d need to listen to a few times. We do have a resident poet in Shazzy for the magazine here (I’ve put the link here, check her material out), and “Beware of the Doll” is lyrical poetry in music form.
So it’s a fine album. There’s even a song titled “Lasagne” that saw me having a groove through the kitchen!
Check out the links, escape the politics and the relentless bad news, and dive in. Music still has the capacity to take us to a better place.
All Instrumentation and Vocals by Hugh Cornwell
Additional Drum Programming and Percussion by Phil Andrews
Produced by Hugh Cornwell
Engineered by Phil Andrews
Mixed by Hugh Cornwell & amp; Phil Andrews
Mastered by Barry Grint Alchemy Mastering @ Air
Front Cover Photography by Bertrand Fevre
All Songs written by Hugh Cornwell
Lorraine Foley – Saying hello.
I responded to a request from the magazine for some volunteer reviewers and this is the first piece I have done. It’s a pleasure to be on board, and I think we need one more person, so can I plug that? These guys are great to work with and are committed to giving you a terrific magazine. So drop them a line on the “contact us” page like I did, and you could be doing the next review!
Lastly, can I give a plug for our Quiz. We do give prizes, and it is a fun test of music knowledge!
By Lorraine Foley