|Chris Spedding - 'Joyland' (Cleopatra Records)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Friday, 20 February 2015 04:00|
The older among us may well remember Chris Spedding from his 1975 hit 'Motor Bikin'' but did you know he was also one of the Wombles alongside Mike Batt and appeared live and on T.O.T.P. back in the mid '70s too? A prolific session player, the now 70 year old has played and recorded with the likes of Bryan Ferry, John Cale and Tom Waits and he was also the man who produced the first Sex Pistols demos.
Having released a plethora of solo albums featuring his distinctive twang over the years, 2015 sees him gather together a host of special guests to appear on his latest offering, 'Joyland'.
The title track opens the album, an atmospheric piece with a voice-over from Ian McShane. It comes on like something from 'War Of The Worlds' or 'Radio K.A.O.S.', Spedding's magical guitar lines there in the background just enough to accentuate the atmosphere created by McShane's spoken word piece. It's out there in a good way, an unexpected and joyous introduction.
'Now You See It' is a pure '70s rocker and has the unmistakeable crazy vocals of Arthur Brown going on. The song is perfect material for The God Of Hellfire and his over the top flamboyance. The surf inspired instrumental 'Cafe Racer' features Glen Matlock on bass and already three tracks in and three completely different styles going on, this bodes well and continues in the same way, it seems Chris has chosen each song to fit each artist. The mix of styles actually works well and keeps things fresh, it sort of has the feel of a Tarantino inspired soundtrack album which I like.
The spaghetti western blues of 'Gunshaft City' has Bryan Ferry on vocals, all slide guitars and silky smooth vocals. The western theme carries into the Breaking Bad inspired instrumental 'Heisenberg' with Johnny Marr on guitar duties this time. You can just feel the desert heat and imagine the tumbleweeds blowing in the wind with this pairing of songs.
'I Still Love You' takes things down with a twist and rockabilly legend Robert Gordon on the microphone which sort of comes on part Elvis impersonator and part Roxy Music balladry. 'Go Down South' and 'Message For Stella' feature Sharks mainman and former King Mob bandmate Steve Parsons on vocals, the former with a deep blues groove, the latter a proper Elvis rock 'n' roll hip shaker.
One of the most remarkable songs on this album is 'I'm Your Sin', which sees Spedding duet with 16 year old Californian vocalist Lane. It comes on like an awesome acoustic Alabama 3 outtake, Spedding's gravelly voice the perfect contrast to Lane's beautiful tones. Sweet, countrified Blues music for the soul, I could listen to this all day long.
There's a little bit for everyone on 'Joyland', a diverse album that mixes up musical styles with much success from a man with a musical history that we have all enjoyed or been a part of somewhere along the line. Chris Spedding may be of an age where most of us would be happy to still have our bodily functions in working order, but 'Joyland' is testament that the man's still got what it takes to write and play good music.