Saturday, 14 May 2011

Review: Steve Cradock - Peace City West

'Peace City West' is the second solo album from the Ocean Colour Scene man and Paul Weller guitarist, and it's fair to say this set of songs is pretty much what I expected. Which in the case of retro man Cradock is not a bad thing. Overall the record is largely more acoustic than the mod-rock his band specialise in, and flourishes of psychedelica touch the album's sound. But opener 'Last Day Of The Old World' is the sort of thing OCS would carry off very well and indeed Cradock does a great job of doing it on his own, with it's Who-esque chorus and a brilliant Yardbirds-like guitar hook.

'The Pleasure Seekers' is again reminiscent of The Who, but with verses that wouldn't sound out of place on any of Weller's albums. 'Finally Found My Way Back Home' has a promising acoustic riff and a nice Beatles-esque melody, but falls flat at the chorus which is a touch too whimsical. However the dreamy outro of mandolin, harmonica and flute is lovely and it carries through into the short instrumental 'Interlude 1'. 'Kites rise Up Against The Wind' is washed with psychedelic sounds and echoes the sonic aspects of Weller's last two albums. While reviewing this album it's hard not to mention Weller, since some of 'Peace City West' reminds people that Cradock has made some valuable contribution towards the Modfather's solo work.

'My Scooter Sits Idle' and 'Only Look Up When You're Down' are album highlights, both with great melodies that would sound incredible as OCS songs, especially the latter with its bittersweet acoustic swing. For it to be followed by the painful indian music pastiche of 'Interlude 2' is disappointing, but 'Stepping Aside' is brilliant, hearing Cradock bash out a funky electrifying riff on an acoustic guitar and duetting with his wife Sally on a smart slice of groovy 60's pop. Elsewhere 'Little Girl' is a charming sad little number that would again be great on an OCS record, and 'Lay Down Your Weary Burden' with it
s appealing piano and dreamy pedal steel guitar. 'Interlude 3' is an unsettled sounding instrumental dressed with piano and a strange drum machine beat. Up to this point we haven't heard much electric guitar since the opening track, but on 'I-Man' this is made up with another Who-like mod-rock number that sees Cradock whip out his trademark backwards solos and spectacular effects. In fact guitar work worthy of 'You've Got It Bad' or 'Get Blown Away'. Although a bit too long 'I-Man' would've made a better closing track than the sloppy whimsical bore that is 'ring The Changes'. Even though it does have a pretty twinkle, it totally has 'solo side-project' written all over it.

There's no doubting Steve Cradock's solo work is different to his band's, but perhaps the best of these songs are the ones that sound most like Ocean Colour Scene. Despite a few duff moments, 'Peace City West' is well worth a listen. 8/10

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