Monday, 18 February 2019

David Essex - Gold And Ivory (1977)


  

Released in 1977

“Gold & Ivory” was David Essex’s last credible, “proper” album, really. Punk was igniting  all around him and the critical acclaim his albums deserved was never going to be achieved. He tried to diversify a bit on this album, however, exploring different musical sounds. Fair play to him. It didn’t work though. It is probably his rockiest album and has been almost completely overlooked, even in comparison to Essex's previous albums. It is actually worth more than that and listening to it all these years later is a pleasant surprise.

TRACK LISTING

1. New Horizon
2. Good Morning (Darling)
3. Yesterday In L.A.
4. Lend Me Your Comb
5. Whole Lotta Monkey
6. Back Street Crawler
7. That Circle Keeps On Changing
8. Cool Out Tonight
9. You
10. Virginia (And The Circus Sideshow)
11. Britannia
12. Gold and Ivory                                          
13. Stay With Me Baby

“New Horizon” is an orchestrated, disco-influenced number with that typical 1977 disco beat and chicka-chicka guitar sound, plus those trademark disco horns. “Good Morning (Darling)” is a character—driven romantic heartbreaker of a song that sounds as if it had come from a stage musical, something many of Essex’s songs did. It is quite an enchanting number. “Yesterday In L.A.” is a muscular, rocky track with a bit of a funky backing and a strong vocal. It has a weird bit in the middle, with some funny voices and a jazzy break. For some reason it reminds me of Madness's "The Liberty Of Norton Folgate" from many years later. "Lend Me Your Comb" is another solid, appealing rocker with a Springsteen-esque saxophone solo.

"Whole Lotta Monkey", like "Ooh Love" on his previous album, was a song that revisited the rhythmic strains of his debut 1973 hit, "Rock On". While material like this sounded great in 1973-75, with punk and new wave all over the place, it just got overlooked, which was a bit of a shame as it isn't bad stuff. "Back Street Crawler" is a powerful, slow burner of a rock song, with a blues rock vocal and some excellent, atmospheric saxophone once again. It has some epic qualities, with echoes of both Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie in it. "That Circle Keeps On Changing" has a sort of Rolling Stones-ish rock funkiness to it. It is also backed by some US cop show-style brass breaks.

The album's one chart hit came in  the mid-seventies throwback, nostalgic sound of the catchy "Cool Out Tonight". "You" is a tender slow-pace ballad, with a plaintive vocal against a sparse but melodic guitar backing. In the middle it breaks out with some sumptuous saxophone. Some blues harmonica and riffy guitar introduces "Virginia (And The Circus Sideshow)" and Essex revisits one of his favourite topics -working on the fairgrounds and circuses. It really is a quirkily enjoyable track. "Britannia" again has that mysterious "Rock On" feel to it and a bit of a rock/reggae groove and lyrics questioning the murky past of the British Empire. The title track is an evocative ballad, packed once more with nostalgia. It has, for me, huge hints of Ian Hunter in it, particularly in Essex's vocal at the end. "Stay With Me Baby" is a competent cover of the Lorraine Ellison soul hit.

There are a lot of hidden treasures on this album. It is well worth checking out if you can get hold of it, which is difficult these days.

B-

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