EMI 1981 / Angel Air 2016
Away with the blues to channel contemporary working class depression, original British punk eases into the ’80s.
A larger-than-life character despite his low-profile, Steve Parsons, or Snips, maintained a defiantly out-of-place look in a classic rock environment but managed to hold his own with the best of them in BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY and alongside Andy Fraser and Chris Spedding in SHARKS. Striking solo with 1978’s “Video King” to explore pop options of the day, Snips skipped a punk phase – which one would assume was natural for him – and progressed to the next decade on this, his second and the last album before film music became the singer’s paycheck to complement further collaborations with a “Motor Bikin'” guitarist whose easily recognizable twang kicks “Tight Shoes” against the ground.
There’s something cinematic here, too, as for the most part the record’s engulfed in a loose concept detailing an average person’s gloom – no matter how alluring it may seem in the psychedelic “The Rain” that picks up where a certain Fabs’ song left off, or how Bill Nelson’s keyboards paint claustrophobia all over “Dark Outside” which lands on folk dance – and boring routine. But if “Work” is as insistent as a conveyer rhythm, a rather euphoric “Nine O’Clock” – shaped up with Midge Ure – offers an escape into the ’80s with a shadow of hope, synthesizer wave enveloping a bobbing riff.
An elegant bounce to the album’s title cut can push its clipped groove towards dub but still keep on the rockabilly side of the tracks, in the private heaven Parsons envisaged for Brian Jones. The Stone is also glorified in “Skies Of England” which has turned the anger of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” inside out to reach for his, and Snips’, romantic essence; that’s why, perhaps, the voice in the wilderness of “Backs Of Millions” doesn’t sound revolutionary and “Happy Sometimes” taps into the same soul vein as a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “You’re A Wonderful One” in the bountiful bonus section of this CD. So although the singer is asking “What Is Pop?” at the record’s finale, the answer is obvious: it’s the edge Snips could have ridden for ages if his ego was as big as his talent. Thankfully, he’s back with those big fish now.