Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Ocean Colour Scene - Moseley Shoals (1996)

The day we caught the train....

  

Released on 8 April 1996

Running time 54.27

Ocean Colour Scene had, in 1996, been around for several years, releasing one eponymous album in 1992 and then being "rescued" in Bowie/Mott The Hoople fashion by Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher. Guitarist Steve Cradock went on to play with Weller for years (and still does) while bassist Damon Minchella also played with Weller on tour. Anyway, briefly, the group became the next big thing. They were a mix of sixties psych rock, freakbeat, folk rock and blues rock influences mixed with smatterings of soul and funk just here and there. They were very difficult to categorise, but the and something. They could certainly play, and they maximised their influences well, merging them with their own style to create something relatively unique. Weller, in fact, plays organ, guitar and piano at points throughout this album.

For some reason, however, it all went wrong and the music media turned on them, dragging a lot of the public along at the same time, so much so that people these days are somewhat embarrassed to admit to owning this album. This was/is unwarranted and unfair. This was/is a good album.

TRACK LISTING

1. The Riverboat Song
2. The Day We Caught The Train
3. The Circle
4. Lining Your Pockets
5. Fleeting Mind
6. 40 Past Midnight
7. One For The Road
8. It's My Shadow
9. Policemen & Pirates
10. The Downstream
11. You've Got It Bad
12. Get Away                                      

"The Riverboat Song" has a catchy introductory riff and some solid guitar. It settles down into a safe enough chugger, but is not quite as remarkable a track as many seem to think it is. It is ok, though, with a sixties-influenced vocal. Hints of late sixties psychedelic rock lurk beneath the surface. There is some excellent wah-wah guitar soloing from Steve Cradock on here, it has to be said. "The Day We Caught The Train" has a few shameless "I Am The Walrus" snatches in it, along with hints of Ronnie Lane, The Small Faces and The Strawbs at their rockiest. It is very derivative, I have to say, but actually pretty enjoyable despite that. "The Circle" has a very Brit Pop guitar riff heralding it in. It is a catchy number with another Ronnie Lane-sounding vocal from vocalist Simon Fowler. A good track, this one with a really good bit of guitar near the end.

"Lining Your Pockets" is a slow ballad with a bit of George Harrison about it, for me. "Fleeting Mind" is a dreamy, floaty Nick Drake-inspired song, but with a more solid slow rock backing. There are echoes of "Led Zeppelin III" in there too, just a bit. Again, it is an intriguing, impressive track. There are Weller influences in there too, which in turn were Traffic ones, particularly on the guitar interjections and drum sound. "40 Past Midnight" is a solid piece of soul-influenced rock in a sort of early/mid-seventies "Don't Shoot Me" Elton John style. There are also lots of Stones influences all over it in its slow blues sound and Fowler's Jagger-esque vocal. I am thinking of The Stones from the "Goats Head Soup" era.


For me there is something post 2000s Springsteen meets The Hothouse Flowers about the very appealing "One For The Road". It is one of the album's best tracks. Yes, it wears its influences on its sleeve, but it also has a fair amount of originality. The plaintive "It's My Shadow" is very McCartney-esque with more George Harrison vibes too. When it breaks out into the chorus it is big, full and powerful as well. The band could rock pulsatingly when they wanted to. "Policemen & Pirates" has a big chunky and slightly punky riff, but also some vaguely prog-rock bits and a late sixties/early seventies feel. Once again, it is eclectic, but strangely original. I am at a loss in trying to pigeonhole it.

"The Downstream" could be a Stones late sixties/early seventies ballad, both vocally and musically. Check out that keyboard bit. Lots of "Wild Horses" on the vocal too. "You've Got It Bad" has a choppy riff, a lively, aggressive beat and some psych-y feedback reverberating around. A bit of post punk guitar in there too. It is very freakbeat. A drum solo at the end as well. The album ends with the folky, plaintive "Get Away", which breaks out from its acoustic beginning into an extremely Paul Weller-esque number, in a "Foot Of The Mountain"/"Shadow Of The Sun" sort of way. More drum soloing near the end before the Weller guitar returns.

This album has been unfairly maligned over the passing of time. Time for a re-assessment. It's a good one.

B+

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