What’s the prerequisite for a great record then? Catchy hooks, killer riffs, meaningful lyrics and some snazzy cover art are high on my wants, needs and hopefuls list. Well, ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ by The Speedways ticks all the boxes, as it has all those things and more.
We like this album so much we have reviewed it twice! Well, sort of. Released last year, ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is a concept album of sorts, about a summer romance, written and recorded by one dude called Matt Julian. Matt used to be in Nottingham band The Breakdowns, until they broke down. With his new project The Speedways, he took that same pop suss and magnified it tenfold, recording all instruments by himself and made an album that sounds like it was recorded live in the studio in just one take.
This new re-mastered edition is presented for the first time on CD for the US market with 5 additional tracks to savour and very cool artwork, again by the uber talented Josh Clark.
So let’s cover the album for those who are yet to catch up. Someone recently told me ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is the best album Elvis Costello never made, and that’s as good a place to begin as any. But if I bandy about names such as The Replacements, Ramones and Tom Petty, and if I drop in gone but not forgotten gems like The Soho Roses and The Exploding Hearts, then you get an idea of the record sleeves Matt Julian has been fingering for inspiration. Yeah, we are talking low-slung, guitar driven power pop of the highest order.
The thing about The Speedways is that they have potential hit singles in their arsenal… massive hits. ‘Seen Better Days’ is the perfect 3 minute pop single, full of a youthful innocence that takes you back to summer daze creating mixtapes to send to the girl of your dreams. ‘In Common With You’ hits you right in the feels, as dampened chords lead to an emotive and yearning chorus. The sort of tune Tuk Smith was smashing out of the ball park before his Biters signed with a major label.
On the title track, Matt Julian takes us on a tube train ride to Holloway Road to reminisce about the girl with glitter in her hair. The pop-tastic melody is as familiar as the tale of heartbreak we have all experienced at some point in our life. Matt has the ability to draw the listener in with his descriptive storytelling, as we clench hands and eat ice cream on the bench with the couple and hope their love will last…at least until the record stops spinning!
Elsewhere ‘That’ll Be The Day The Earth Stood Still’ is an upbeat and glorious slice of Spector-lite pop and The 50’s guitar twang of ‘One Kiss Can Lead To Another’ has an instant familiarity, as does the warming vocal harmonies.
Included on this US version are both tracks from their recent 7” single release. The single mix of ‘Seen Better Days’ hardly differs from the album version to these ears, but the flipside is worth the entry fee alone. Pop fact: Kirsty MacColl’s ‘They Don’t Know’ was made popular by Tracy Ullman in 1983 and was only kept off the number one spot by Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’. That’s the version I know best and so do you, just admit it! They tackle the track to great effect; a perfectly crafted pop song about teenage love that fits the album concept like a crushed velvet glove.
The addition of rough acoustic demos of ‘Just Another Regular Summer’, ‘Reunion In The Rain’, and ‘Seen Better Days’ present the songs in their rawest form, all dirt under the fingernails goodness, proving a good song is a good song even in its unpolished form.
Choc-a-bloc with bubblegum induced choruses ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is a tale of love and heartbreak, set to a soundtrack of youth.
The Speedways were intended as a one-album project, done and dusted. And that would’ve been a crying shame, as these songs are too good to go unnoticed. I’m happy to report the project has grown to a fully-fledged band since the initial release. So, joining Matt are Mauro Venegas on guitar, Adrian Alfonaso on bass and Los Pepes tub-thumper Kris Hood. They have been sporadically gigging and are currently recording The Speedways album number 2. We await the follow up with baited breath, but for now, this expanded edition CD is well worth seeking out to tide you over.
Buy the Deluxe Edition Here
Author: Ben Hughes