Conehead UK [Release date 01.12.14]
It must be difficult working with an “established” artist who hasn’t made an album for 30 years. Which direction do you go in? Do you leave the past behind? Do you embrace the past? In the example of Alvin Stardust he will be forever etched in the nation’s memory as the singer with the creepy hand movements who rocked the Top 20 with ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ and made No.1 with ‘Jealous Mind’. But that was in 1974.
Sometime Robbie Williams collaborators Richard Scott and Scott Ralph helped fashion this revival, spurred on by their joint manager Andy Davies who had previously worked with Stardust on a TV documentary.
‘Alvin’ is a personal triumph but you never feel that the singer has nailed a particular style or theme. The dark opener ‘Robbery’ is encouraging but the album quickly de-generates into a semi-Johnny Cash style of non-too-taxing vocal over anything from a Mariachi backbeat (‘Now That I’ve Found You Again’ to slightly world inflection (‘Whiskey Sweat’).
The single ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Still Haven’t Seen You Cry’ have an inoffensive country influence whilst ‘It Had To Be You’ is very sixties in execution with reverberating Duane Eddy-style guitar. ‘Big Jack’ harks back to the 1950s (wasn’t Alvin just an updated teddy-boy?) . The closing piece ‘Lovin’ You Till I Die’ now emerges as the most touching.
As I completed this review, the sad news came through of the singer’s death at the age of 72. This album therefore takes on a new significance and is a fair epitaph for an artist embracing his past and – sadly – on the cusp of a comeback. ***
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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