David Randall chatted to Simon Kirke in October 2016 for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The hour special features Bad Company, Free, and other related tracks.
BMG [Release date 10.02.17]
It may come as a surprise that the hard-hitting Free/Bad Company tub thumper has a softer underbelly. Simon Kirke has dipped into solo work but on a fairly low key scale. In fact he joked that he would even buy those purchasers of his homespun release (‘Seven Rays Of Hope’) dinner by way of a thank you – presumably on the basis that he wouldn’t be adding too much to the restaurant’s profits.
Following Bad Company’s successful touring in 2016, Kirke now unleashes his third solo album. The only clue to his illustrious past is a cover of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ and only on ‘Troubled Road’ does he break any sweat.
‘All Because Of You’ is a pleasant song-driven album and should be assessed on its own merits, rather than with deferment to his essentially hard rock heritage. The truth is, Kirke co-wrote many songs with Free and then Bad Company. He slipped off the radar only when Bad Company folded in the late 1990s and having successfully fought alcoholism and drug abuse surfaced sporadically with the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band and then Bad Company when that band reformed.
The material here is mature, somewhat introspective, and fairly consistent. It’s the proverbial easy listen, driven by Kirke’s vocal and acoustic guitar rather than his drum kit. Arguably, it belongs to a different age when albums clocked in at sub-40 minutes and we had half-decent daytime radio. In spirit the album is closest to the likes of Harry Chapin and Gordon Lightfoot which places the album’s feel firmly in the seventies.
Consistency is always an issue with solo albums as it is very easy for artists to seize the opportunity to display a variety of styles and influences. To his credit, Simon has kept things on an even keel.
There’s a McCartney-esque ‘Blackbird’ influence on ‘Maria’ (with attractive string orchestration) whilst ‘Into The Light’ features a gospel choir. However, I can’t help thinking what an album this would be if all the tracks matched the killer class of ‘Melting On Madison’. Cue for a widescreen song placement?
The inclusion of ‘Friends In The Woods’ may seem somewhat trite and disposable, it was written for Kirke’s first child some years ago. It merely contributes to the feeling that Kirke is wearing his heart on his sleeve throughout this album. I mean does he have to pander to expectation or modern taste and preference?
It’s about time that we all sat up and took notice of Simon Kirke away from the drum stool. After a couple of tentative solo efforts, ‘All Because Of You’ will help wider recognition of a talented performer with a gold-plated past who for a time looked into an abyss of despair and who ultimately emerged with a clearer and re-vitalised vision. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Interview (October 2016)
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