Martin Stephenson & The Daintees GLADSOME, HUMOUR & BLUE

mgs gladsome ax 2018

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees
Barbaraville Records

The Bard of Geordieland Still Sounds Fresh and Thought-Provoking After 30 Years.

If you don’t already know the work of Martin George Stephenson you should be damn near ashamed to call yourself a music fan!
OOPS! Did I just say that out loud? Well; if I did it’s because that’s how I feel about the man and his music.
I once described the second most famous musician to come from Washington as having ‘Musical Tourette’s’ such is the way he keeps releasing albums; and the standard is always exceptionally high too, by the way; which in a roundabout way bring us to this his glorious reworking of his second ever album from 1988 and (bizarrely) the only one to chart in the Top 40….. who knew?
The almost legendary Comes A Time opens events like a an exhausted battle-cry; originally for the disaffected youth of the late Eighties; but one that still resonates today for those very same people, who are now in their fifties but with similar worries and more.
Another crowd favourite that has stood the test of time Slaughterman follows; and yet again Martin’s clever way with words and metaphors sound even more apt today; as we are all older, wiser and probably a lot more cynical; nodding our heads as he softly growls –
“Like some hot dog seller sitting in a stand,
You’ve a nerve to criticize while you sit inside your cage,
Like some Turkey paying homage to the slaughter man”.
Thirty years on; surely this is as apt a description of the British public facing an unsure future after Brexit; or even the world sitting waiting to see what Trump and/or Putin will do next?
As someone who couldn’t afford to buy the original LP; the next few songs are brand new to me and each one shows what an insightful and staggeringly intelligent songwriter he was at such a young age; but the new treatments also highlight what great musicians Stephenson MG, Steel, Mordey and Stephenson K. have all evolved into; even though the most famous Daintees formation never actually played on the original! (Apart from Stephenson MG of course).
The Wait finds Martin at his Folksiest; and the romantic waltz like I Can See now revolves around Chris Mordey’s hypnotic bass playing and Kate’s oh so deceptively clever drumming.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Martin play live and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Even The Night before; and that just goes to show what an amazing back catalogue he has; if such a diamond can remain in his musical shadows until now.
Oh Lordy, Lord…… I did know Goodbye John before but never in this format. Martin tells the sad story in his charming native tongue; half talking and half singing as John Steel sets your hair on edge with his Hank B Marvinesque guitar playing in the background. #SHIVER
I thought choosing a Favourite Track would have proved much easier than it actually has been; as the new warn and occasionally spine tingling production on a favourite for 30 years Wholly Humble Heart was a shoe-in surely, and as for Me & Matthew, it still brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it (and that’s a lot), and then there’s Nancy of course which always reminds me of…… never mind, my heart beat a little bit faster when I played this last week is all you need to know!
No sirree; I’m going to go for one of the songs that are brand new to me; possibly one of the two songs that tenuously deal with Religion; the delicate love song I Pray or Old Church which is another beauty that has been kept hidden from me for 30 years; and when you hear it you won’t believe that he was only 24 when he wrote these very deep lyrics which (again) sound like they could have been written last month!
But……cue drum roll from Kate……. The RMHQ Favourite Song here is…… the class, hard-hitting, dancetastic and also the nearest thing to seeing Martin G Stephenson in concert you will ever hear from a studio album; Get, Get Gone which closes the album and comfortably straddles the Folk-Rock and Americana spheres that he has unknowingly introduced several generations too without knowing it!
Whoever you are and whatever music you like, there is something here to make you think about, smile at or just plainly enjoy!

Released November 23rd 2018

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