8 February 2014
Finley Quaye - Maverick A Strike
Time has not been kind to Finley Quaye; he has not done himself any favours either if the truth be told. He started out with a lot of promise winning MOBO and Brit awards for best male singer had a reputation and then it sort of went to the wall. In the last few years he has been sporadic at best when it comes to releases (none of which have been doing much) and in trouble with the law for punching a lady in Edinburgh for racially aggravated assault. All this is a far cry from the man who came out with all guns blazing in a sunshine beam into the world in the early 90's. So it is time to look back on this album to find out how well it has aged and if it was really worth the effort in the first place.
Starting with the bass heavy vibe of "Ultra Stimulation" you have an album that sounds like it was made in the Caribbean, instead of in the UK (well I will be honest it does not say anywhere I can find anywhere online or on the box itself where it was recorded). It is very much of it time production wise, but it sound better for the 90's vibe to be honest. The one thing you can say about this is that Mr Quaye does not sound like he wishes to be rushed about. His voice is fine; just it seems even more laid back than the actual music going on in the background. Lucky for him he sings in a reggae style then, as it is a really chilled and mellow beginning that opens this album. "It's Great When We're Together" follows on and it is even more relaxed; a song about the two sides of the relationship coin. It is very sparse and had lots of empty room, when the bass is playing you have a brilliant song, however it is just a little two empty to be anything better than background noise. Also, I cannot honestly say that Mr Quaye stretches himself here; unlike on the next track "Sunday Shinning" which has samples from Bob Marley. It is the stand out track of the album and was a top twenty UK hit single. It is full of energy and is still a top draw over 17 years on.
Next is the biggest single of the album "Even After All" which follows the vibration of "It Is Great When We're Together" but it adds the bass which makes this song a much more positive and not as soulless as it's other cousin. It is still sparse, but it is enriched just by a few notes from the bass player. Mr Quaye is still as laid back as ever and he sounds like a trap made of honey for women at this point. "Ride On And Turn The People On" is next with a really confused personality, it sounds like it wants to break down into a much more funky vibration and way; but it tries to be that trip-hop soundscape and it does not suit Mr Quaye's vocal delivery. He sounds like Deborah Harry trying to rap and the whole track is just a clusterfuck, the only word for it is awful. "The Way Of The Explosive" is back on the reggae trip and is much better, a positive tune with minimal lyrics and interference from the producers (ie - keeping it simple) and it really makes up for "Ride On And Turn The People On" with its little guitar licks and laid back persona.
"You Love Gets Sweeter" is a cheerful tune which was another hit drawn from this album is probably a track which I am sure Jake Bugg will soon get round to bastardising and making his own, as it is lovely, simple and a nice love song with a simple guitar rhythm and bass combo. It is not really that important in the greater scheme of the world but it cheers it up for a few moments. "Supreme I Preme" however goes back to a more trip-hop and electronic vibration again. It is much more darker to the rest of the album, this time it works and makes up for "Ride On....". A tale about the other side of London/New York/big cities that brings to mind the parts of a night out when things go wrong, it feels sinister and out of place to the rest of the record; but its inclusion is welcome to the sunshine vibration that has been going on for the rest of the album. In comparison "Sweet & Loving Man" which it's reggae and off keyboard just seem childish, it seems as if Mr Quaye is still trying to sing the same song from the beginning of the album as his vocal has not altered much and you could probably lay them on "It's Great When We're Together" and it would sound the same.
"Red Rolled And Seen" starts of promising then goes nowhere fast for 4 minutes, as an instrumental it is wallpaper drying. Dull wallpaper drying..... "Falling" comes on next with no sense of urgency and whilst it is ok, it is not helping the album in terms of enjoyment and vibration. I have a feeling this is a great track for a summer's day but it is not working at all after "Red Rolled..." which drove the album to a halt. "I Need A Lover" is a better track but again, it is so slow and uninspiring that it makes the coma that I have started to fall into seem like an eternity. Ending the album is the title track, it feels like it is trying to guide the album home to a subtle and calm ending which is not what was needed. Obviously, this is a weed album and in 1997 a lot of the UK must have been high as this reached number 3 in the album charts.
Overall this album is incredible frustrating; there are places where is truly is original and interesting - "Sunday Shining", "Supreme I Preme" and "You Love Get Sweeter" are highlights of this album. However, there is a lot of this album that does not work, it tails off to such a degree that liquid death is a more preferable activity. Also, the criticism that Quaye is a lazy vocalist is a good call. The man can sing, but his delivery is truly pedestrian in places. I really wish that this had aged well, but it is like going back to the club you once had the best night of your life in and finding that it does not quite add up to your memories. Best left in the past.
3 out of ten - Not for everyone but played well
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