I hate concept albums as the 16 year Punk Rock Kid inside of me still thinks of some Prog Bloke in a Wizard’s Hat and Cloak stabbing his keyboards, which takes up the space of a fitted wardrobe, with a large Kitchen knife whilst the drummer enters the 20th minute of his half hour drum solo. Right, now that’s out of the way; my favourite Bass Player ever is Paul Gray who found fame with Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Damned, UFO and erm Andrew Ridgley. One of my three all time favourite Drummers is Rat Scabies who fortunately played on the ground breaking Damned albums “The Black Album” and “Strawberries” with the aforementioned Paul Gray. So when the news broke earlier this year that once more Scabies and Gray would be joining up with Alfie Agnew (Adolescents, D.I.) and Sean Elliott (D.I., Mind Over Four) for the follow up to the Professor and the Madman’s “Disintegrate Me” album I reached for the Box of Kleenex. However, my hand hovered as the words “Concept album” was banded about. Of course the middle-aged me knows that any Genre can tackle the idea of a Concept record, Jazz, Blues, Classical and even Punk, but having quality musicians play on an album doesn’t automatically mean you’ll pull it off, see “Son of Albert” by Andrew Ridgley. “Séance”, is the story relating to a group of mates who hold a séance to say one final farewell to friends who have obviously died,” does manage to pull it off and rather well at that, in the manner of “Sgt Pepper” and “Yellow Submarine.” It does feel as it should be a West End or Broadway Musical, the soundtrack produced by George Martin cue a séance.
“All the lonely Soul” is the brooding intro before the title track introduces us the main characters longing to reconnect with their past and lost loved ones through a séance. “So Long” starts off with a Monkees style intro before we’re taken though a journey of what seems like regret or reflection. Something that does come across throughout the album is the great vocal Harmonies. Alfie and Sean take it in turns in the lead vocal department but it’s the chorus’ that would make Brian Wilson proud. After “So Long” the character in “Real Me” contemplates the Devil on his shoulder. It’s probably the best song the Kinks never wrote. “Child’s Eyes” looks back at how things through adolescent eyes are so much simpler whilst in adulthood it “Seems like the jokes on each of us”. There are two types of people who play bass; Bass Players and Bass Guitarists. John Entwistle, Lemmy and Paul Gray are Bass Guitarists; they play their instrument as if it was a lead guitar and Paul’s style so fit’s in on “Séance” you couldn’t imagine anyone else doing a better job. “Time Machine”/Man With Nothing To Lose” introduces us to another couple of characters; the Scientist who has had enough of reality and wants to build a time machine to go back to his perceived better era. Now “Time Machine” really screams ‘Musical!!’ I can see in my mind a row of men in blazers and straw boaters jazz handing across the stage, all that is missing is trumpets! A homeless man overhears the Scientist in the more downbeat fairground sounding “Man With Nothing To Lose” and imagines what could be achieved if time travel was possible “We could go back and fix all our mistakes. Build ourselves mansions with the money we’d make.” And “Hit 1980 and go see The Damned” If only, if only! “Two Tickets To The Afterlife” returns to the original character who now finds himself in a Game Show set in Hell with some choice prizes “We’ve Got Thrills, we’ve got pills, we’ve got million dollar bills. We’ve got weed, we’ve got speed, we’ve got everything you need” but they all come with a price. “…Afterlife” is probably the heaviest track on the album. Once off the Game Show our main man now finds himself in front of “The Council of Purgatory” who confuses him with their gentle overtones, almost a Barber Shop quartet? Again I can really see this on the West End Stage. “All The Lonely Souls” is reprised as an instrumental that finishes of the main, first act.
“Greetings From The Other Side” starts the final act with the reawakening of mankind after 2000 years frozen in stasis, with questions and concerns of the album’s protagonist answered by the ‘Forces’ “We did not die, we were never here.” The album ends with “New World” with the ‘Forces’ leading mankind to Utopia, the Garden of Eden, you decide but warning, pleading with us to “take care of your new World, not like the old world and teach the children not to hate, because if you don’t…Maybe we’ll see you again.”
Did I ever tell you I love a good old concept album?
“Séance” by the Professor and the Madman is out on the 13th November on either yellow vinyl, CD or digital Download via Fullertone Records that you can pre-order at www.professorandthemadman.com
Author: Armitage Smith
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