WALLY WALLER – Kitchen Rock

Think Like A Key 2023

Kitchen Rock

Oh! You Pretty Thing: British rock veteran goes down the rabbit hole of memory lane to distill classics to their bare essence.

His very name seeming to suggest perpetual motion, Wally Waller has never been prone to stopping in his tracks, be it as a prominent member of THE PRETTY THINGS during their most remarkable period or as a producer for the likes of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. Edging towards the octogenarian age, this musician is still very much active, which means the Covid-related lockdown turned out into a torment for him, and that’s why Waller began to dabble in creating videos for old material as well as recording various favorites, singing and playing acoustic six strings, on his old tablet, and then overdubbing additional instruments and vocals. Thus, Wally’s first-ever solo album – not counting 1976’s “Do It” by WALLY WALLER BAND, on which he played everything anyway – was born.

Available on CD and as a download, its essence still shines the best on vinyl, and not because of the format’s sonic properties but due to LP’s space limitations which allowed Waller to shorten his platter’s run from sixteen to nine cuts. The veteran left on the digital outside such important numbers as its several covers – including “Slow Down” by Larry Williams, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” from Elvis’ repertoire, and Bo Diddley’s “Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” – all part of a young British rocker’s upbringing in the late ’50s and all brilliant in their unplugged nakedness that should highlight the nuances Wally’s voice, and a few other pieces, while focusing on what he created together with the sorely missed Phil May. Among these are not only the fully fledged “The Good Mr. Square (She Was Tall, She Was High)” and “Grass” – arguably the least prominent tracks on PT’s “Parachute” yet given as much weight now as the other gems off the ensemble’s 1970 classic, the record brought almost entirely into the present – but also the rare jewel of “Check Out” sounding even more authentic than in the collective’s version, and “The Sun” from 1967: the first song Waller and May wrote together, enhanced with serrated guitar riffs and baroque piano ripples here to reveal the pair’s immense potential.

But if the energetic opener “Turn My Head” remains as deceptively simple as it ever seemed to be, the stark “Sickle Clowns” and “Cries From The Midnight Circus” retain their sharp cinematic grandeur, especially impressive with a slider rolling up the fretboard. Elsewhere, “Over The Moon” – which Wally originally sang but currently stripped from electricity, unlike the charged drive of “Walking Through My Dream” – bares its newly acquired vulnerability, and “The Rain Trilogy” demonstrates the previously unheard mesmeric qualities in Waller’s harmonic distillation of this familiar suite to strum and handclaps that are layered under the lines of lyrics only to solidify into a groovy sway. There’s a great legacy on display, and Wally Waller’s succeeded in making his past eternally vital.


September 8, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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