Martin Allen: Rational Anthem

~ Friday, 1 April 2011
Martin Allen’s press blurb states that he’s a well known litigation lawyer and that he has waited half a lifetime before writing his first song. So it was with the fear of an injunction hanging over my head that I waded through his collection of musings that at times sounds like an expensive hobby that is tax deductible from his exuberant lifestyle.

The CD starts off with Disciples Of Nero which comes across like a 1970s ecological concept album by The Damned and Al Stewart gone wrong (could that ever be right?) and is too lyrically cliched to be taken seriously. “A hurricanes brewing, it’s going to devastate the land and the waves are getting high.” Michael Fish must be quaking in his boots. Out Of This World sounds like the genre breaking and critically acclaimed Manhattan Transfer, which swings along quite nicely and I like it nostalgically as it’s quaint and cute, but the lyrics do sound like a rich man having a mid-life crisis or an attack of conscience. This is repeated on Back Here which is a good song but Martin’s starting to sound like a wedding singer.

And then came Something Missing. Martin, with no hint of irony, hits us with a lame 50s pastiche of the disenchantment of the man who has everything. Poor chap. He’s got a brand new car that’s ‘Got a brain and talk and see, same metallic blue as the 4 x 4 and the Maserati 8GT’. He goes on, ‘Got a Harley I can ride when I want to get a high, chopper out the back when I need to fly’. Now wait for it, ‘But there’s something missing’. Lord bless us and save us! Please let me go on. ‘My sons flying high, he’s a city star, my girls married rich, I’m a proud grandpa’, there’s more, ‘Member of La Manga and a yacht in Port Venus, top of the business, chairman of the board and dosh stashed away where it won’t get taxed’. Yes you guessed it! ‘But there’s something missing’. Only Eric Idle could have got away with this and into the bargain, Martin sounds like Syd Little doing the monster mash.

Another one for the Conservative tea dance is Private Tune which harks from the ‘Shine on Harvey Moon’ era but the last song is still killing me. Dead Simple is the sort of song that would break the heart of the session musicians who have to play such material. Think Phoenix Nights but in Newton Mearns or Surrey as the drummer takes the money and runs.

Credit where it’s due though on Lonely Paradise Waltz. It’s all surreal and psychedelic and I like it, as you can imagine it in the forthcoming Boosh movie with Noel miming along. I’ve found the solution, give Martin drugs! That’s it he’s an acid pioneer! But it becomes a bad trip on Lost For Words which goes from Burt Bacharach to Burt Reynolds in two bars. An arrangement in a latin/mexicana stylee of the quality of Nando’s starts you shouting ‘André André ARIBA ARIBA’ so it ends quickly and Something Missing is still driving me nuts. The Dance Has Only Begun is filler, which is harsh on an album like this and Boy In The City is social conscience and nice sentiments in the way Phil Collins does it. Arguably better to have donated the money to Shelter instead of making this album.

So hopefully I won’t be served the injunction but this album helps verify just what pop music/rock’n’roll/indie has become. A plaything for the rich, young and old and somewhere for the kids to take a gap year and sow some wild oats before they take a seat on the board, courtesy of cute accounting on tax free outings like this. You never know, maybe Martin Allen will pop up as Minister For Arts as David Cameron finally stops working class people from ever making music again.

Where have all the good times gone?

[] (1/5)

Review by Captain Dhilin Kunderan