24 August 2009 (released)
28 September 2009
At the arse-end of the sixties, when the Hippie dream was souring fast and it looked like genuine revolution was likely in France and most parts of S. America, the Stones put out ‘Street Fighting Man’, the Who had ‘Baba O’Reilly’ and The Beatles released ‘Revolution’. In all this the enduring sound of 1970 was Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’ which, with its opening line of “Bring out the Instigator” and the refrain “..because the revolution’s here and you know that its right” was one of the most chilling numbers you could imagine as mini-skirted ‘chicks’ and hip young guys sang along to a fat, bald bearded dixieland piano player without any idea what the words were about. Of the numbers mentioned above it is also the most instantly recognisable and popular songs of the period.
Thunderclap Newman were actually Pete Townsend’s (the Who) creation and it is actually him playing bass on all the tracks here (credited as Bijou Drains) along with Speedy Keen on drums and vocals and a very young Jimmy McCulloch’s guitars plus the aforementioned fat, bald beardie Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman.
The album is a very English collection, full of whimsy and stories that could have been written by Ray Davies or Mike D’Abo and some very fine playing as well.
Andy Newman’s piano style is very limited – basically repeating the style of ‘Something in the air’ on many tracks and Speedy Keen’s falsetto does pall after a while but the songs are great. ‘Open The Door Richard’ is full of punnery, ‘Accidents’ could almost be a Madness number as it paints a picture of paranoia in the middle classes over an almost symphonic change half way through – the single version is also included which is almost better than the full length number – and my personal favourite ‘Wilhelmina’, a gorgeous piece of English silliness with the opening line “Wilhelmina is plump and round, plump and round” and the best kazoo solo on record!
The remaster is fine and the packaging is excellent as usual.
The album is worth getting simply for ‘Something in the air’ but I was surprised by just how much good stuff is hidden away here – not bad for a one-hit wonder!