Foreword - When this was wrote, it was after the pledgemusic campaign had arrived; since the album is now on general release, I thought I would repost this.
I have been awaiting this one for a while - the last year our blogger Luke has been reviewing the G.A.S.S. Project by Ginger Wildheart. He didn't finish it to be honest, mainly due to the fact he suddenly how two small humans who cover him in various liquids and take his full attention; naturally you’re priorities have to change when you become a father of twins and it was sort of put to the side – for the correct reasons as well. I will be asking him to finish it (I am doing it now via this blog - Luke, finish it!!!! Between dad duties of course), but I knew Ginger would probably do a 'best of' for this project and that hunch turn out to be bang on the mark. Once again using the PledgeMusic website, this was launch last December with his Songs & Words project - a book which chronicles times with The Wildhearts and also documents the 555% project which helped him rejuvenate his career in the public eye - for what it is worth I was always following his music as he would always release something different, my favourite being Mutation (which was just bat crap crazy - but in a good way). But anyway, he has always been looking for ways to get his music released and G.A.S.S. was the latest in his ventures to connect directly with his audience and this is the cream of the crop of the tracks from this project. Before I start, I would like to point out I will probably not be going into as much details Luke has in his reviews as he went into details for at least seven of the releases and you can read these at this clever link (using the G.A.S.S. tag)!!! Also I will be honest here - I never signed up for G.A.S.S. and I have no real defence as to why, apart from each time I thought about it was when I was a bit tight for cash and I wanted to hear new music from Mr Wildheart. I still want to get it, it is not expensive for what you are receiving; so if anyone wants to get me a Christmas present - hint (UPDATE - I did not receive the G.A.S.S. membership for Christmas, must have been a bad boy). However, this is not the time for hinting for Christmas as 1) We need to get Halloween out of the way and 2) it is time to see how the 'Year of the Fanclub' has turned out.
Starting the album is "Down In The Dip" which was released on the 4th month of the G.A.S.S. project; the song is a straight forward rock anthem that Ginger has been able to write for years, it gives me an excitement that I got when I first heard "Forget About It" off '555%' as it is so simple that it makes you wonder why it was not wrote earlier. As an opening song to this album it is very good and it is followed on by another song from the 4th month of G.A.S.S. called "Honour" which contains the vocal talents of Courtney Love with Ginger Wildheart. Now for people who do not know this, Ginger Wildheart has been performing with Courtney Love in her live band; so to hear the Hole vocalist on this release was not that big a leap in my head. To be honest their vocal styles mesh well together and the riff in this song has a devilish hook that will get into your head for long after it has stopped playing; it is also in and out of the door quicker than a scandal in the House of Commons in the 1970's. The third track is called "El Mundo (Slow Fatigue)" from the 2nd month of G.A.S.S. which can be described as the perfect mix of 'Yoni' and sections of 'Mutation'. It has a great, catchy verse and chorus sections which actually make me think of sunshine and psychedelic daydreams that I can remember having as a kid when I would live on a sugar buzz; then it has a horn section which sometimes descends into field of noise that contrasts nicely with the bright and colour vocals of the song that are such a contrast to the actual words of the song. For me it was an instant reaction to this song, one of the best of the record for me with a brilliant contradiction of music, words and sounds - I love it.
"The Last Day of Summer" is off the 8th G.A.S.S. which is one that Luke is still to review (hint, hint) and it is an acoustic guitar focused number that does sound as if the end of summer is present in the world whilst it is being played. A song about those summer nights and mortality, it is one of the numbers that sounds very good and I am not falling for it as I have other numbers on this album. Not a bad song at all, but there are better songs on here for me and I will probably be playing this so loud when it comes to summer next year - also a bad Ginger song is rarer than rocking horse shit. We are back in punk, rock 'n' roll roller-coaster with "Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now" which was released on the 3rd G.A.S.S. and it is part warning against a person unknown and pondering what he would do to them when said person has acted like an ass-sack, part what happened when he asked Henry Rollins if he would appear on the song (to which Ginger got a straight 'No' from Big Hank) and part insanity drive rock. It is one of those songs that will bring a smile to your face and has a durability, due to its simple focus and great riff that reminds me of "Nexus Icon" from 'The Wildhearts Must Be Destroy' and I can also see why Luke compared it to "How I Survived The Punk Rock Wars" from the first Hey! Hello! album. Marking the halfway point is the country/folk feeling "The Pendine Incident" which was released on 5th month of the G.A.S.S. and I agree with Luke's view of the song from his review. It is all about a conversation Ginger had engaged in with an old man who gave him some wise words which could be given to everyone; it does have a degree of familiarity from the beginning and whilst it is not an explosion of rock 'n' roll, it is another side of Ginger which his fans will be more than familiar with (been to three of his acoustic shows myself) and the message is really positive - basically, don't be a dick. I can see why it was the highlight of the 5th G.A.S.S. for Luke, it is also one of the highlights of this release.
"Do You" was from the 3rd G.A.S.S. is a song about depressions, suicide and dragging your thoughts through the dark waters of your mind. For such a sensitive and dark subject, some people might find the mid-paced rock to be out of place and disrespectful, I would disagree with that as it brings the spotlight on something which too many people throw under that carpet and try to hide. It is something that effects more people than you realise and probably people that you personally know, it is a great song that really makes a serious point which will hopefully help people when the world is a bit darker realise they are not alone and hopefully look for help - a powerful number that deserves to be played. "If You Find Yourself in London Town" is another acoustic country/folk song with some dark synth which is the third track to be taken from the 4th G.A.S.S. release, warning about the darker side of the capital of England. For me it has a feeling of being the anti-"Geordie in Wonderland" with a sense of danger just filtering into the song. Sometimes I prefer this version of Ginger and would be interested to hear an acoustic/punk folk album from Ginger as his gigs and live recordings were always fantastic, this song is a fine example of what this album could possibly sound like and is another highlight of the record. "Toxins & Tea" is the second slice of the 8th G.A.S.S. and is one of the best song I have heard from Ginger since "Taste Aversion" from 555% (which is still on regular repeat in my place); it builds from a simple acoustic guitar, adds some infectious horns, some brilliant guitar, great drums and bass then you get some of best lyrics of the release as it loops around with all the fun of a party going slowly off the rails as everyone is stomping around, shouting and having fun as the lyrical train of thought goes in a few different direction. It also reminds me "Stop the Calvary" by Jona Lewie as well, it is just as catchy for me and is the track of the album.
"Mr T & Me" is from the 7th G.A.S.S. which is a confessional of sort for Ginger when he is trying to make get over the fact to the audience that he is superhero to his little lad Taylor, something that means he also tries to meet the expectations of his lil' one. It is not too sickly or over-sentimental, it is just a man hoping that he does not let his son down. The lyrics are backed with another stomping rock number, it is a really good song and I can see why it was Luke's track of the 7th G.A.S.S. release. The penultimate track is called "No One Smiled at Me Today" from the 10th G.A.S.S. which is another that Luke is still to review (hint) and we are back in the hard rock feeling, it deals with the loneliness of the world as how you can get love from other places in the world. With its hard rock feeling, brilliant solo and easy pace it is one that will be popular with a lot of the audience; it is good, but if pushed it would be the number on the album I would skip before the others, but there is always one track that has to take that honour on an album. Not saying it is bad, just saying the other eleven tracks are better. Ending the album is "Ostracide" from the 6th G.A.S.S. release and it does seem to be dealing with the fallout from the severing of his friendships/partnerships of Gav & Victoria (ex-manager and ex-vocalist of Hey! Hello!) - both me and Luke could be wrong about that one, but it seems to be very autobiographical. You have a classic hard rock opening, going into a stomping opening riff that has always been a trusted calling card of Mr Ginger in all of his outfits. The mood is dark on this number which sounds as if anger has passed and all that is left is a sadness that the situation which could have been avoided, the music is great on this song with a fantastic ending that Ginger always seems to end all his records with, it ends a bit abruptly but that does not change the outcome of the song and the album.
As an advertisement for the G.A.S.S. project I have to say this is very effective, mainly due to the fact that I am trying to figure out how I can get the funds together to join in the fun to get the rest of the tracks - I think that say it all when you want more and you are considering getting the rest due to a sample. I always knew I would want to get it when I eventually heard anything off these and this album is a great taster, it is also comes with one of the best covers of the year (the picture up the top is my CD which arrived on 23 October and has been on repeat since) and that was also committed upon by Mr Carter as well. The mixture of styles on this record show that Mr Wildheart (as his fans already know) is able to turn his hand to any style and make it sound good. Because there is not a track from each release, I am wondering how those songs sound and why they did not make the cut. If you’re unsure about getting G.A.S.S. and you want to try before you buy, this is a really great release. I am sure at some point Luke will finish off his round up of the releases, me and him have been massive fans of Ginger and his various project (more Mutation please!!!!) and this is another great release to add to that collection. It does not feel cobbled together, it sounds brilliant and it is beautifully packaged, well done Mr Wildheart.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost......
Top track - Toxins & Tea
Sadly the Pledge is now closed at PledgeMusic - this link will only show you what you could have got in a Bullseye type of way
You can actually still sign up for the full G.A.S.S. project here
It is not on the Ginger Wildheart Bandcamp page (at time of writing) but you can get some class albums there anyway at this link
You can visit the Ginger Wildheart website here
You can follow Ginger Wildheart's activities on Facebook here
However I feel the best place on Facebook to keep up to date with any GW activities is 'All Things Ginger Wildheart' - you have to ask to be a member though
Here is the link for people wanting to purchase via Amazon, but wouldn't getting the G.A.S.S. project be more rewarding?
You can stream Year of the Fanclub on Deezer here from 12 February 2016
You can stream Year of the Fanclub on Spotify here from 12 February 2016
At present there is no pre-link for Tidal, but you really do want to purchase it whilst you can - or join G.A.S.S.