OLLIE HALSALL – Lovers Leaping

Market Square 1999 / Think Like A Key 2021

Unissued pages of the legendary auteur’s personal diaries get exposed to the sun once again.

Lovers Leaping

PATTO and TEMPEST, where his predecessor Allan Holdsworth cited him as an influence, John Otway and Kevin Ayers: Ollie Halsall, the guitarist’s guitarist, seemed always eager to contribute to any project he was involved with – not only as a performer yet also as a writer. Which is why any collection of the great late artist’s working tapes should feel precious, especially given the fact that there are not too many of those, even if the demos didn’t land on an official record. And most of those didn’t, remaining in Ollie’s collaborators’ personal vaults and ready to shock his connoisseurs once shared with the rest of the world. This dozen of well-polished Halsall cuts, laid down as a multi-track around the time of BOXER’s "Bloodletting" seeing the light of day, originally arrived from Otway’s archives, and though their “Travelling Show” languished on the shelf for decades, “Stepping Out” ended up not on one but on two Ayers’ albums.

The former of these songs – and all of them are fully fledged songs as opposed to instrumental sketches less mortals would go for – captures Ollie in a sentimental, Lennon-like mood, vocally harmonizing with himself before letting strum and drums anchor the gorgeous piano ballad that cosmic synthesizers elevate beyond the initial pale, while the latter of the two pieces is a tremulous slice of folk-informed, Dylanesque self-deprecation revealing Halsall’s trademark vulnerability. Placed between these, the tuneful batch’s titular number comes across just as humanly, if humorous – at least until honeyed six-string lines and gripping chorus emerge from under reggae groove rendering “Lovers Leaping” truly irresistible. Yet, of course, nothing can challenge the fuzz-driven “You Need A Friend” and “Crazy When I Fall In Love” as well as sax-smeared opener “Hey Hey Little Girl” in terms of pure, ’60s-influenced rocking – uninhibited, yet infectiously elegant – but the Gallic-smelling “Come On Let’s Go” harks even further back, to the ’30s frivolity, getting serious once a vibrant acoustic-to-electric solo passages light the musical patina, and “Back Against The Wall” introduces effervescent pop sensibilities, with the player’s voice and delivery ever so scintillating, to the flow.

Still, whereas the Diddley beat and lyrics of the whistle-enhanced “Door To Door Daughter” are bound to induce smiles on the listeners’ faces, the rawer licks of “First Day In New York” swirl punky catchiness with the same defiance, and “Airplane Food” is a prime example of vigorous glam-rock which could bite into the charts had it been released – as could the new-wavy “Summertime Kids” with its memory-ruffling riff and refrain. Perhaps, someone will dare and cover any of these cuts to do them, and Ollie Halsall, the ultimate justice: they’re that robust.


April 28, 2024

Category(s): Reissues

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