Friday, 19 July 2019

Chris Rea - God's Great Banana Skin (1992)

Miles is a cigarette....


Released on 2 November 1992

Running time 55.00

This was the album which saw Chris Rea's long-held love of the blues finally start to really poke its head above the surface. The easy listening vibe created in the late eighties/early nineties is still there, but there is also bluesy guitar prevalent and a laid-back ambience persists all around the album. It is even more low-key than its predecessor, Auberge had been. Rea was certainly laying down a marker as to the sort of material he wanted to be known for at this time. You don't get too much difference in a whole row of Rea albums around now until he went full-on bluesy at the end of the nineties, but there were definitely signs on here.


1. Nothing To Fear
2. Miles Is A Cigarette
3. God's Great Banana Skin
4. 90's Blues
5. Too Much Pride
6. Boom Boom
7. I Ain't The Fool
8. There She Goes
9. I'm Ready
10. Black Dog
11. Soft Top, Hard Shoulder                                 

Nothing To Fear begins with two and a half minutes of atmospheric, deep, bluesy background guitar before a gently rhythmic wine bar-style beat kicks in, together with Rea's smoky, warm reassuring voice. A killer slide guitar solo features near the end. The track fades out with a real Dire Straits feel to it. Miles Is A Cigarette, which presumably references Miles Davis, is suitably late night and jazzy, with A Kind Of Blue influences. Rea praises the pleasures of smoking on the song, something nobody minded in 1992, funny how a couple of decades later, smoking seems such a thing of the past. As a lifelong non-smoker, it does to me anyway, maybe not to others.

God's Great Banana Skin is slightly more upbeat, a bluesy rocker with a catchy vocal refrain and more trademark slide guitar. 90's Blues is a Knopfler-esque blues, both musically and in its laconic vocal delivery. "Well the fat man took my money..." is such a Knopfler-inspired line. It has a rich, deep chugging bass line too. The Rea guitar at the end is stunning. Too Much Pride is a solid mid-paced rocker with a sleepy vocal. Again, it is very Dire Straits-ish. Boom Boom is in the same vein, but bluesier and similar to some of the material on 2005's vast Blue Guitars project.

I Ain't The Fool is a muscular bluesy rock ballad as to is the slightly more laid-back and melodic There She Goes. The latter has a lovely guitar solo piece in the middle. I'm Ready is probably the album's most riffy, out-and-out rocker with some excellent guitar and an infectious Stonesy riff. Black Dog (not the Led Zeppelin song) is another lively, upbeat rocker. Soft Top, Hard Shoulder is similarly appealing. The album has ended with three more pumped-up rock songs, but overall this was another very gentle, reflective piece of work.