Nick Marsh was known best as founding member of ’80s Goth Rockers Flesh for Lulu, singing lead vocals and playing guitar on hits like ‘I Go Crazy’ and ‘Postcards from Paradise’. He was also a vital ingredient in the Urban Voodoo Machine’s “bourbon-soaked gypsy blues”, Perhaps the perfect foil for Frontmany Paul-Ronny Angel his cool smoldering guitar licks added a fine blend of quality and panache. Sadly, all that had gone before was brought crashing to a halt as Nick battled with illness. Tragically Nick died of cancer in 2015, He left the world this celebrated musical legacy and in 2010 he released the dark classic record that was ‘A Universe Between Us’, his much-loved solo debut.
Now a decade later we get the treat that is ‘Waltzing Bones’. Produced and co-arranged by his partner and musical collaborator Katharine Blake (Mediaeval Baebes and Miranda Sex Garden), the album includes tracks that were fully formed before Nick’s death as well as some that Katharine crafted around Nick’s vocals and his core melodies in a way she believes he would have liked.
The album features her vocal and instrumental contributions, as well as those of a stellar cast of some of the finest friends and musicians including David Ryder Prangley (Rachel Stamp), Ray Hanson (Thee Hypnotics), Nick Reynolds (Alabama 3), Paul-Ronney Angel (The Urban Voodoo Machine), Jim Jones (The Jim Jones Review and Thee Hypnotics), Clifford Slapper (Bowie Songs One) and Charlie Cawood (Mediaeval Baebes).
Waltzing Bones is eleven songs that soundtrack the late nights from the opening ‘Masquerade’ with its spiraling piano rolls on the intro its a perfect Nick Marsh track that’s painting landscapes with his softly hushed lyrics. Like a fine accompanying red wine, it’s a faint hint of the smoldering ashtray as the skies break and a clear twinkling of stars smile in the black night, it’s a beautiful opener that’s for sure. Real hair on the back of one’s neck stood to attention moment.
That panoramic widescreen feel was always one of Marsh’s fortes and even on the Hits, there was a grande world view like a chic Cannes flick as opposed to a popcorn Westend multiplex vibe it’s always been sophisticated subtitled black and white or sepia tones.
Blakes soaring vocals are the perfect foil for Marsh’s hushed style is a wonderful thing on ‘Gotta Run’. It’s sometimes a worry when a recording is posthumously released but this is a joy, a real pleasure the wheeze box and horns of ‘Somma Ma Friends’ and its Jazzy vibe remind me of some of Daniel Ash’s work but I’d rather have some vocals if I’m honest. The western desert-like feel of ‘Temptation’ is a chance for Marsh to pull off his best Barroom croon. ‘The Day It Rained Forever’ could have fallen off the Suicide Twins Album or a lost Tom Waits album minus the bourbon-soaked piano top. In contrast, the guitar amps are turned up to Bolan Boogie levels for ‘Crazy Eyes’.
‘Spider Woman’ is more of that old jazz then the ‘Shiny Void’ is an epic six-minute nylon strung and hushed soundscapes kinda’ tune. Which only leaves the title track to sign of this marvelous piece of work. I don’t think Marsh ever made a bad record and I’m sure he’d be proud to have this released in his name at time beautiful, often tinged with sadness but always exceptional. Thanks to all involved there is a star that will shine brightly in the night sky every time I pour a red and toast the unique talent with another spin of this album. Buy It!
Buy ‘Waltzing Bones’ Here
Author: Dom Daley