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Monday, February 15, 2010

Glamour & Fame Review

The Jimmy C - Glamour and Fame.

Review by Michael Witheford.

There’s a certain sadness, a cheerful joy, an eerie prescience, a bag of riffs and lot of humour, and rumours here and there of some of music’s (particularly sixties music’s) best outfits.

It’s Glamour and Fame the new long-player from Australia’s The Jimmy C, a band whose members look exactly like one guy, Jamie Coghill, a drummer. Well we thought he was a drummer until he got settled in his spare room and began writing and recording a hugely eclectic range of songs with a lot of heart and a bold confidence bordering on impudence.

And this really is a solo album. He lets his wife sing a verse on one song. Other than that this is all, The Jimmy C – a one man brilliant bunch of guys. The spirit of the record might have suffered from guest players anyway because Jamie has a clear vision of how The Jimmy C should sound, and if you can do it yourself, if you’re clever and talented enough, why not enforce the lock out and let your imagination run free. A lot of us would like to do the same except we’re not very clever and far less talented. In other words Jamie’s songs are in the hands of an expert producer as soon as they’re written.

Like all good albums it sounds a little like many things but not enough to suggest there’s been any over-listening to any of the bands which are hinted at here and there. You might find whispers of Ennio Morricone and The Small Faces in the same song. Banks of stunning harmonies, beautifully executed and certainly informed by The Beach Boys, but not overwhelmingly. (Although the 35 second a Capella stunner “Sunny Day Segue” actually could be The Beach Boys. Seriously.)

We have some cheeky, hokey, doffing of the cowboy hat to the grand Ole Opry, and flourishes of Pink Floyd post-Syd pre-Dark Side psych-outs; the elusive vocals on “A Certain Sadness (Part 1)” are spookily just out of reach, but close enough for a cheeky verse of “A Day In The Life” to be murmuring beneath.

If you needed to describe The Jimmy C in a few sentences, and that’s quite a challenge, you might suggest the record consistently pays tribute to the best of the second half of the sixties. But then there’s something like “(Untitled)”, 35 seconds of charming percussive innovation which struck me as almost unprecedented, in my collection anyway, and that one’s followed by a wistful infuriatingly catchy pop tune, “Maybe Next Year”, a kind of lament for unfulfilled moments, but almost a piss-take of rock’n’roll cliché too. Later there’s a twangin’ surf instrumental similar to The Ventures playing with the Pretty Things.

Remember this album was recorded and mixed by The Jimmy C in Jimmy C’s house. The clarity of these highly inventive superbly arranged tunes is testament to Jamie’s subtle skills when employing only a fraction of the hardware you’d find in a large studio. You hear new delights on every listen.

This is confident effortless music. Saturated in melody and multi-instrumentation, and alive with so many ideas you’re never quite ready for the songs to finish. Wherever The Jimmy C goes next I’ll be climbing aboard for another ride.

Michael Witheford - February 2010

Michael Witheford is a Melbourne musician and writer - author of "Buzzed" Published by Penguin Books 2002.

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