Thursday, 23 April 2015

Graham Coxon - Happiness in Magazines (2004)

Well, that clears up the mystery of what happened to the tunes on Blur's Think Tank. They're all here. I was listening to the Blur's post-Coxon album only a few weeks ago, and at the time I noted:

Think Tank makes for fine listening in terms of affording an appreciation of the patently considerable talents of those involved, but it is surely as significant that I've played the fucker three times today and I still can't remember the first thing about any of it.

Conversely, I've only knowingly heard this album once before and it already sounds like something I've been spinning on and off for a couple of years, such is the mighty songwriting force of himself.

Inevitably it sounds somewhat like a lost Blur album, and I'm surprised at how close Coxon's vocals come to those of Damon Albarn - not so strong admittedly, but nevertheless up to the job; and once you're past the resemblance - and wondering why the other two were in that band on the grounds of Graham Coxon playing almost everything you can hear on this album - it gradually becomes apparent how much this isn't a Blur record, mainly because it rocks in ways they've never quite managed. Never mind channelling the Sex Pistols - with particular emphasis on the Steve Jones part of the equation - at certain intervals Happiness in Magazines represents the full Johnny Thunders, jumping up in the air with its legs akimbo and all that good stuff; gradually undergoing a series of personality changes through mournful balladry to a sort of er... country & east-end I guess you may as well call it. The production is, I suppose, kind of basic in so much as you could never accuse it of being overproduced. You can hear everything you need to hear as well as you need to hear it, so it's a nice fat punky racket without spilling over the waist of its pants, and which affords some insight into the sheer fucking quality of writing here - just the right mix of simple and fancy in all the right places.

So, in a sentence, Johnny Thunders does Blur in Steve Albini's studio, or something like that, but different - not least in the case of the luxuriously cinematic All Over Me which is sort of like most of what Beck has been trying to do for the last ten years whilst generally screwing it up with too much reverb and sentiment.

Happily, this is another one of those albums so consistently great that trying to describe it is more or less a waste of time when whooo whooo whooo and a fist in the air serves just as well.

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