Overnight Sensations Again After 30 Years in the Wilderness?
An album that has been 30 years in the making for, for one time ‘overnight sensations.’
After releasing the first track on this album as a single towards the end of 2020, Bradford (oddly enough from Blackburn!) effectively re-announced their arrival (or return) to the music arena and an arena totally different to the one they left 30 years ago.
Back then, they were lauded by the likes of Morrissey as ‘a band of the future,’ and with tours in support of Mr. Morrissey and Joe Strummer things looked bright, before that light was extinguished with the burgeoning Manchester scene.
Bradford, like the town, lost their aura and had to disband in 1991.
Roll on nearly 30 years and a collection of around 30 songs appeared – a ‘lost English classic’ some said; and this had the effect of re-lighting that late 80s fire and the result is the worthy effort of ‘Bright Hours,’ and a new line- up to take up the baton yet again.
Deciding to issue an album was brave, but to re-create songs written 30 years ago was even braver, but the revised line-up and the re-arranging of the various tracks has produced a very good stab at getting back into the groove.
It is hard to envisage how much time was spent in poring over the material and deciding how to alter arrangements that would retain their individuality, but at the same time, keep the Bradford ‘sound’ – they’ve made a more than passable attempt to marry the old and new together.
‘Like Water’ is a perfect choice as the opener, as it catches the flavour of their history perfectly as ‘water just drifted away through the cracks’ in the same manner as their 1990 hopes and dreams.
Vocally, I think it’s fair to see that these suggest an older band; one with a few miles under their belt.
Founding members, Ian and Ewan have been joined by producer Stephen Street and the chemistry between the three is highlighted on some very catchy and well crafted tracks both musically and lyrically. With your eyes shut you can imagine some of these being sung by a more mature Small Faces or The Coral.
On ‘My Wet Face’ they deal with the ‘need to hang onto things you love,’ while ‘This Week Has Made Me Weak’ is a superb track where their harmonies fit well into a song dealing with the travails of getting through a 7 day week, with each day allocated a specific identity. Regardless of the individual days the sum total is to be weak after the week ends.
A couple of the tracks work well as they suit Ian’s voice (‘Bright Hours’) and certainly wouldn’t be out of place on a set by more recent and, dare I say it …. younger bands. Ian delivers the lines with a minimum of fuss and I did wonder how well they would have done if they had been able to ride out that 1991 year.
‘Feathers In The Fire’ has a hint of an Indie-Folk track and would certainly slot into the sets of several modern North West bands, but one of the highlights for me is the gruff delivery of ‘The Rowing Boat Song’, imploring that ‘you keep your seat on the hard wooden seats.’
A bit like their own story where you try to hang on to what you have got.
It would have been interesting to hear the original productions and arrangements; and to compare them to the finished article and I definitely felt that ‘Gave A Time’ had benefitted from the changes, as Ian offers a soft and occasionally strangulated vocal on a gentle song.
The album got my usual two or three full listens and I can honestly say it grew on me with each hearing.
The penultimate track ‘I Make A Fist’ could easily have been on a Richard Hawley album and the more I listened the more I enjoyed it.
I am realistic enough to know that this won’t be a big seller, but I hope that enough folks listen to it and enjoy it for what it is.
An album that has survived the test of time in the real sense of the word.
Review by Bill Redhead
Released February 19th 2021
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