GRAHAM COXON - Happiness In Magazines (Transcopic)
I admit that I am very late in coming to this album, but then I was never that much of a fan of Blur, and so solo projects by former members would be well down my list of albums to sample. Added to that was the fact that his first couple of releases were apparently extremely lo-fi acoustic ramblings and you have an artist that I could quite happily ignore. What changed my mind was seeing him perform 'Freakin' Out' on Jonathan Ross, and being instantly knocked out by this brilliantly simple and yet extremely catchy punk-influenced riffing rocker. Hoping that this was not a one-off I decided to try the album, and found that my trepidation was ill-founded. 'Spectacular' and 'No Good Time' are of the same mould as 'Freakin' Out', being excellent guitar-led rockers, and showing the sort of music that Coxon obviously wanted to do while Damon Albarn was guiding Blur along the Brit-pop road. 'Girl Done Gone' is a blues-based songs with a truly astounding feed-back drenched guitar solo. The more lightweight - but still oddly melodic -'Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery', 'Are You Ready' and 'Bottom Bunk' are more like the sort of thing I expected, although with a much beefier production than I had feared, and there really are no songs on here that I would say that I did not like. The most unexpected thing about this album is that whether the track is rock or ballad they are all blessed with a great tune, and all praise to Coxon for making a true solo album - playing everything on here with the exception of the odd keyboards and string section. If Blur had made music like this when they were at their peak then I might have more of their albums in the collection than the solitary one that I own.