Friday, May 01, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 137 - Haircut 100 - Pelican West

By: March

Album - Pelican West
Artist - Haircut 100
Key Players - Les Nemes - bass. Graham Jones - guitar. Phil Smith - saxophone(s). Blair Cunningham - drums. Mark Fox - congas/percussion. Nick Heyward - lead and rhythm guitars, lead vocals.
Produced By - Bob Sargeant

Release Date (early) 1982

What caused me to blow off the dust? - You hear one of the two major singles from this record from time to time. (it was the reason(s) I bought the cd years ago to begin with). I can't tell you the last time this got the old front to back here we go.

Overview - This was the debut record from Englands "Haircut 100". The debut would contain three tracks that would crack the UKs Top 10 charts and two singles would do rather well in the United States. The album would land at #2 on the UK charts. In early 1983 singer Nick Heyward would leave the band at their height to peruse a solo career. The band would release a second full length record, but never come as close to equalling the success of the debut and disband in 1984.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- A single choppy guitar strikes notes on the intro to "Love Plus One", then there are some vibes, then the saxophone comes up. Its an instantly recognizable "alternative classic". The guitar keeps its clip and the full band comes in. The catchy chorus washes over and the band keeps a steady beat. The bass gets punchy at times in the verses but it keeps that great bouncy feel through out. The song still stands up well. The second track, which was the first single actually "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" opens with and even choppier guitar line. The congas come up more and Heyward sings the verses at a machine gun pace. The chorus is accented with the horn sections giving it a very "ska" feel. There is even a longer horn section "solo" as well and the percussion/congas get a good work out as well. The guitar intro on "Lemon Firebrigade" has more of a chime to it and the vocals start almost right away along with a tambourine shake. The Nemes bass line is swooping, deep and fun. The track goes sort of instrumental with a lot of slapping/popping bass work and the horns really spread out on this with trumpet and sax solos. This is a musically rewarding track for sure. The punchy guitar opens up "Marine Boy" and we quickly get a Smith sax solo in the intro. The band is tight in percussion, bass and drums. Heyward is laid back on this track vocally, sung with a little less urgency than some of the prior tracks. A back porch, drink sipping sort of track for sure. There is a piano interlude as well, something we hadn't heard of yet and its complimented on the back end with another sax run. A car races by on the intro to "Milk Film". The guitars have that fun chaka-chaka to them, but a second guitar washes chords over the top of that. The drums are basic and there is no horns at the outset, but come the chorus it gets the full Haircut 100 treatment. The horns are great and we get an alto sax solo that really stands out before the traditional deeper tenor sax solo. Great stuff. "Kingsize (You're My Little Steam Whistle)", comes up with more guitar chords and a big full horn section and the guitar has an equally as great "wah wah" feel. Nemes bass chugs along over the track keeping the groove intact. There is a great percussive breakdown that heads into a great horn section into another slap bass solo. A real hidden gem. A smooth sax with some "oohs and ahhs" brings up . "Fantastic Day". The intro doesn't give you a good feel as the song then takes a quicker vocal pace. As the track progresses the vocals on the chorus get higher in harmonies and the sax really compliments it. "Baked Bean" opens with a crunchy guitar and before you know it there are horn blasts and the percussion kicks in. The bass work is strong again, with the rhythm section really the showcase. The band really builds up and you think you are going to get another run of a verse or chorus but it suddenly fades out. There is again more chime to the guitar on the intro of "Snow Girl" as it begins. The horns come up and the drums are light and compliment the more playful vocals. Nemes bass stands out once more (really noticing a great trend here I never seemed to experience before). "Love's Got Me in Triangles" has a funk fueled drum intro that goes to a great wah wah guitar and funk bass. Heyward sings "love" with a pitch that goes up and octave on the "ve". The overall tune has a great funk feel with the percussion instruments coming up in the mix (cowbells, chimes etc). Another great hidden gem. "Surprise Me Again" begins with a solo guitar and then some bass, but the vocals are up in rather short order. The band plays sort of the same loop of notes, but the guitar chimes over it keeping it playful and the vocals are once swift, but precise. The album wraps up with the funky track "Calling Captain Autumn". All the stuff that has made the record great so far is here or the closer. Great drums, deep bass, good horns fun/catchy lyrics. A solid closer.

Where are they now? In 2004 all of the band's ex-members reunited for an episode of VH1's series Bands Reunited. The bands myspace page has a good update on what they are doing now. Be sure to check out the link section for more information. (Blair Cunningham was a touring member of Paul McCartneys band for years!!?)

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw Haircut 100 live.

FDF Overall Take - I have no experience with the bands second album in which the voice (Heyward) was not present. The few great singles on here will bring a smile to many a face. I am sure the bigger singles are available on many and "80's" compilation but on a whole, this record is worth tracking down. The band is really very very strong, something many folks may have not realized then, or now even.

The band on myspace and Nick on myspace.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3's have been removed..
Love Plus One
Love's Got Me In Triangles
Milk Film

I'll give you one of the big singles, but there are two more that you probably haven't heard..check out the BAND!!

All the tracks taken from "Pelican West" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:42 AM, Anonymous matt said...

Weird. Never made the Blair Cunningham connection with Haircut 100 when he was in McCartney's band. I wasn't much of a Haircut 100 fan, but I'm surprised I didn't hear this at any point in his bio info..

At 11:47 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

hey matt - thanks for stopping over and the comment. I was sorta surprised as well re: the drummer. Its all there though on their myspace bio page. Sorta odd to go from a sorta funk/ska/pop band and play w/Sir Paul.

Again, thanks for stoppin over.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous matt said...

absolutely - this has become a regular read. Loved your feature on The Outfield....I love nearly their entire catalog, but I played the hell out of that particular cassette in 1986.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I remember this being one of the videos MTV played all the time.

At 6:17 PM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

I own this album. I love this album. I have no shame.


Post a Comment

<< Home