Wreckless Eric - Transience - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Wreckless Eric - Transience

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-17
Wreckless Eric - Transience
Wreckless Eric - Transience

Way back in the ancient days of 1972, noted philosopher and poet Ricky Nelson wrote “If memories are all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck.”

It seems that Eric Goulden, known for decades as Wreckless Eric,  has made that fateful phrase his words to live by. At an age where most of his contemporaries are doing reunion and farewell tours with nothing new having been offered up for years, Eric is still making timely and quality music. Last year’s “Construction Time and Demolition” was a well-constructed composition, and never one to sit on his laurels, Eric is back with “Transience” an eight tune collection of songs that deal with age, experience and the realization that we are all only here for a short time. Goulden will be 65 years old the day after his latest work is released, but aside from his Cockney twinged voice being a bit rougher than it was in his youth, he is still producing top-shelf material fit for both recording and stage.

This is hard-edged, low-fi rock and roll with some distant echoes of the music made by bands like the Byrds before they went country. Lots of guitars, both 6 and 12 string are front and center and solid bass and drumming are mixed with melodic keyboards to create sounds that many much younger performers will most likely never equal.

Goulden has lined up a most professional group to work with, including drummer Steve Goulding, whom he hasn’t worked with since the “Whole Wide World” days. Longtime partner Amy Rigby brings her vocal and piano talents, Alexander Turnquist plays an exquisite acoustic 12 string, Tom Petersson, the usual bass player for Cheap Trick, handles the four string and Arnie Barbato adds various brass instruments

Not many artists call out their contemporaries in a song, but Goulden does just that in “The Half of It”.

“Ray was singing to me,” he sings, referencing Ray Davies,” how I might see the stars as I stroll down Hollywood Boulevard.”

“And Neil kept telling me, tonight’s the night over at S.I.R.” he wails, speaking of Mr. Young. It's hard to tell if either of those pieces of advice found their mark, but they were apparently noteworthy enough to warrant a mention.

Goulden works hard on the song, playing acoustic guitar, a Wurlitzer electric piano, a drone synth, a Ukranian noise box (whatever that is) and a Moog Opus synth. Ross Goldstein on a Vox Continental organ and Barbato on euphonium give the cut a full and thick sound which blends with Goulden’s vocal to produce a work of melodic and intelligent ingredients. An interesting detail of the tune is that there is a long and exquisite instrumental in the middle, giving the work what Goulden calls “three halves”.

Years ago, Goulden told an interviewer that he wanted to be remembered as having left “an indelible stain” on his chosen profession. Here, he makes sure that will occur, with “Indelible Stain”. This is basic lo-fi at it’s best with drums, guitars and a bass combined with a Hammond keyboard. A long and tasty instrumental starts the groove and lasts for over half of the total 4:10 length. The vocal is buried a bit in the mix to highlight the music, and no one is the poorer for it. It is a great taste of a throwback to pre-synth rock that was played with much more rudimentary equipment.

“Father To The Man” dives into the look back at life that is often a subject of the album’s writing. Goulden sings about his father and how the two lived very different lives.

“While he was steady I was a flake, I lived my life from scrape to scrape.”  he sings with a touch of regret in his voice. “Now I’m older I’m a lot like him, history coming back again.” On a personal note, as someone almost the same age as Eric, who also lost parents in the last year, the song is more poignant than it probably would be to a younger listener, but I can relate. That isn’t something I experience with most modern day lyrics.

“Strange Locomotion” starts out with a roughly hewn count-in, but quickly turns into a good old fashioned rocker, while “Tiny House” gives us two minutes of punky rhythm and a lyric singing the praises of instant mobility.

In another example of lyrics you don’t hear every day, “Creepy People (In The Middle Of The Night)  begins “I thought that they were Mormons but they might have been the KGB. They could have been Christians, they were giving the lions a run for their money.” Infused over a sing-song melody that turns into a “lets stop and take a break.” middle, the tune is pure fun from a guy old enough to know how to create it. The second half sounds as much like a studio party as it does a professional recording, but it just fits in here perfectly.

The lyrics are much more mainstream and limited on closer “California/Handyman”. Here we get just short of seven and a half minutes of fine musicianship from the entire band. Barbato is credited with “obliterated horns somewhere on the end” and Jem Cohen apparently phoned in some backing vocals, but the result is the most complete and satisfying recording on the disc. Many seven minute songs can seem endless. This one feels too short.

It has been brought to my attention that many people in Britain count Wreckless Eric as a one-hit wonder from decades ago. I find that not only strange but somewhat tragic. Apparently, too many people just weren’t listening to what was being offered, for a myriad of reasons.  From what I have managed to absorb of Goulden’s long career, he is still improving with age, and the best just may be still to come.  If life was as fair as we would all like it to be, Wreckless Eric should be a national treasure.

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