Duncan Reid & The Big Heads – ‘Bombs Away‘ (LBH Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Dom Daley   
Thursday, 25 May 2017 04:00

7600-cover rgbAlbum number three for Duncan since leaving The Boys and if your MO is to get better at this going solo lark, then I think he might just have cracked it. Having already been in this business longer than the rest of his band put together, going solo and having to make all the decisions and being responsible for what gets put out there can be a daunting and isolated task.  Some will take to it like a duck to water and others can just sink like a stone.  


Let’s cut to the chase right here and right now - I declare that, after two attempts, this here third offering see's Reid nigh on perfect his little niche in rock and roll as he has penned several ear worms that will drive you insane and overall created an album that is stronger than either of his previous offerings put together.  He's also gathered round him a crack band that is in synch with what Reid is about and have become an integral part of what he does, to produce possibly the best new wave album of the last few decades.  This is power pop at the very top of the genre - it delivers feel good music effortlessly. It will leave others in this genre wonder how he does it - from the uptempo rockers to the dreamy balladeering, and everything in, between 'Bombs Away' is a mighty fine record. Containing 13 and a dash songs that will just about cover all your emotions in 40 minutes, it will leave you wanting more, more, more!


Let the sermon begin as the piano laments softly on 'Can't Stop'… but don't be fooled, because as soon as you're sitting comfortably - bosh! We're off and the band kicks off with a real opener bristling with intent.  Mauro Venegas trades riffs and licks with Sophie K Powers, whilst a formidable rhythm section of Karen Jones and some bloke who used to be in The Boys are really holding down the beat in the engine room, pouring petrol on the fire that is being traded through the duel guitar attack on a really impressive opener.


The title track is up next and harnessing the swagger of some ‘70s glam stomping that served the likes of Quatro or Jett so well: this has a 'Smokin In the Boys Room' backbeat that will guarantee a smile on even the most miserable kisser. Even if it was inspired by what Duncan was watching on the news, this political song isn't a million miles from where the Glitter Band made an entire career.


'C'mon Josephine' was handed to the one and only Hollywood Brat Andrew Matheson after Duncan was struggling with it - and thank God he did, because this is one hell of a catchy number: from the exciting intro we’re off and, through the verse, you hold your breath for the chorus… will it live up to the build up? Boy, 'C'mon Josephine' is simple yet right on the money, and with so much going on: this is power pop perfection, from the time changes to the backing vocals; this will have you punching the air with delight.  I'm glad Duncan handed it to Matheson - but I bet I'm not as glad that Matheson did tinker with it and collaborate on such a fantastic record as MR Reid…


By track four proceedings take a more laid back approach and Reid's pop sensibilities come to the fore: with big backing vocals, it’s a gentle number, as we’re taken on a jaunt round London Town, where people go about their business like "confetti blowing in the breeze".


Up next was the song that was played at the album launch show that really stood out… and I'm glad to report that when I got home and started to get into this record, it also stood out on this already great album.  From the melody to the chorus, this has great lyrics and some great playing that really grasps the power pop rough edges, with big vocals then a chorus that will crawl into your head and take up residency for bloody days.  You'll even be answering people "yeah yeah yes yeah"- you know you will! One of the best songs Duncan has ever written.


The whole feel of this album is one of confidence, in as much as everybody on board knows what they are doing; the chemistry is fantastic and the humour is always evident, either in the lyrics or just in the whole. This is the entertainment business, and this will entertain: it’s all here folks, it’s all here.


Lots of albums get front loaded and the best couple of songs are up first and then they can drop off the edge of a cliff, but not 'Bombs Away'.  'Wouldn't Change A Single thing' even has duel guitar licks and a feeling that albums like 'Strawberries' by The Damned had. 



After a short song or interlude, 'Me Against The World' - which I'm assured has six Sophie K Powers on it - segues very nicely into the New Wave vibe that is 'I Can Fly', which has a fantastic arrangement: if there was any justice in this world, this would be the third or fourth top ten single off this most excellent of records.


'Just Because You're Paranoid' continues the pop angle, with neat piano stabs and a really good marching beat that takes you to a chorus and beyond.  The band turn up the guitars for 'Hey Frank Sinatra', which has a straight forward beat and arrangement, with some neat lyrics that tell the story of an incorrigible lothario: apparently it also name checks Neil Sedaka, who always makes me smile as almost 30 years ago I used to talk in my sleep and my flatmates reckon I used to tell Neil Sedaka to get in a box - strange? You bet!


Well, we've reached that time and this superb record hasn't had a ballad yet or an end of the night slowie - so why not 'God Save Me Now'?  Why not indeed, as the band relax and ease back, the piano takes the lead in a song Duncan notes was inspired by a friend’s wedding (nothing special there you say but this said person only had a few months to live  and Duncan felt the ceremony was uplifting and joyous and celebratory).  The whole thing had an effect on Duncan that inspired this lovely song, that is the perfect full stop on a near perfect record.


'Bombs Away' is the record Duncan Reid & the Big Heads have been threatening to make for the last few years, and finally they have a bunch of songs that exude confidence and ability whilst leaving the listener with a big fat smile on their face knowing that they've just heard a musician release a record that is as perfect as he could have imagined: I doubt no amount of tinkering could have made it any better.


Now they'll be even more Big Headed (and so they should be)! Quite simply superb!


‘Bombs Away’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


Duncan Reid & The Big Heads play Camden Rocks on Saturday 3 June. They will be on stage at The Black Heart at 7pm.


Read our recent interview with Duncan Reid HERE.






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