The Wildhearts frequently underwent line-up changes, but the band as they stood on this record is the "classic" line up of:
Ginger - lead vocals, guitar (songwriting, as well).
CJ (Chris Jaghdar) - guitar, backing vocals.
Danny McCormack - bass, backing vocals.
Stidi (Andrew Stidwell) - drums.
Released 1993 (31st August, actually, but I shouldn"t know that. It"s not as if I counted down to the ten-year anniversary of it"s release or anything..)
Originally Posted by I"m not quite sure, but it gets used all over the place
The Wildhearts were the kind of band that the British rock press has wet dreams about: creatively brilliant, completely out-of-control, and utterly doomed from day one. Led by charismatic lunatic Ginger, the group's turbulent career lived up to the highest (or lowest, as it were) expectations, with all the ups and downs of a roller-coaster ride, which, after numerous frightening twists and turns, finally derailed in spectacular fashion.
The Wildhearts are my favourite band, and so I decided to finally do some reviews of their material. I"m starting with Earth vs. The Wildhearts
, which to my mind is still their best single release, and, although not their debut release, is their debut album, and thus as good a place as any to start. The Wildhearts are an incredibly prolific band (despite surviving for the first two years of their existence on the songs contained on EP"s Mondo Akimbo A-Go-Go
and Don"t be Happy..Just Worry
and a handful of covers), so it"ll probably take me a while.
They play heavy hard rock. I"m not gonna mess around with genres (no "metallic mash-up" or "heavy metal stomp with pop hooks" here), so they just play heavy, melodic, rock"n"roll. Their main theme is catchy guitar riffs and incredibly sing-a-long-able choruses, as any good rock and roll should be. The focus is much more on riffs than solos, so don"t expect virtuoso technicality. Unfortunately, in my eyes, one of their greatest strengths is the brilliance of Ginger"s lyrics, which are really hard to work into a review without posting all the lyrics..
1 - Greetings From Shitsville
- 4:30 (released as a single - see end of Review for notes on singles)
This track starts with one of the aforementioned catchy riffs, before giving the first taste of Ginger"s great ability at writing catchy, seemingly effortless lyrics, in this case dealing with living in a shi
tty area of north-west London. As is the pattern with most Wildhearts songs, this one follows the pattern of a couple of verses, then a bridge of some kind (in this case with a decent solo), before a final lead out with the chorus. I believe this track would"ve been a popular hit, if Ginger hadn"t been so adamant about keeping the title as it was (which he does a lot, throughout their albums). Lyrical gem:
The heating"s set to sauna, and the coffee"s getting thin,
My vacuum cleaner"s blowing out, instead of sucking in,
I drink myself to coma, so in sleep I escape the din,
And start this shit all over again,
So, now I got a brand new day, to tackle in the same old way,
The ducking and diving of bills that"re arriving, there"s seemingly hundreds to pay
2 - TV Tan
- 4:30 (single)
Another instantly classic (higher) riff starts off this track, which is one I can truly relate to, being as it is about being a lazy bastard. Another thing to note about this band is that they"re a fantastic live band - I"ve seen them 7 times now, and I"ve never yet come away disappointed. Many of their songs are geared specifically to being crowd-pleasing when live - with TV Tan
, the chorus shouts of Ginger and CJ of "Softso KO!" are invariably joined by those of several hundred fans. Again, the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus is the template for the song, but it"s amazing how many times such a structure can be repeated in different songs, kept fresh by the lyrics and riffs. Lyrical gem: probably
20 Regal and a 4-pack,
I guess I'm set for the night
, but it"s a tough one.
3 - Everlone
opens with the heaviest riff on the album, which shouts "I"m EPIC!" at the listener, and yet which soon changes tack to a different, faster riff, which is another thing the Wildhearts are loved by their fans for - the frequent changes of riffs, and the actual quality of the riffs themselves. This faster riff keeps going for the majority of the song (the audience participation factor brought in by the simple-yet-so-very-effective "Fuc
k it!" before the chorus), until about 4 minutes in, when the bridge section comes in, changing to a totally different riff, before reverting back to a final chorus. The ending 2 minutes of Everlone are two of my favourite album minutes ever: they start off with a lonely/melancholic sounding slow strumming of guitars, before crashing back in with a heavy riff, which mutates over the next 20 or so repetitions of it, bringing the track to a close. This song is usually the one that comes to mind if people ask for my favourite Wildhearts song, although it is equally as quickly butted out of place by a dozen or so others, and invariably I never reach a satisfactory answer.. Lyrical gem:
When ideas run out, any fool can make a fist;
I got the will to resist,
I got the power of one, the fear of none, the arms to judge a man,
I bet you don't understand
4 - Shame On Me
This is one of the more brainless songs here - it starts with a bouncy riff, before leading into a more serious version of the same riff with an effortlessly cool bending note on Danny"s bass. The lyrics for once are nothing particularly amazing, yet I find myself going through periods of this being my most listened to song.
5 - Caffeine Bomb
- 2:39 (single)
FAST. That"s the word to describe Caffeine Bomb
, which, unsurprisingly, is about making a Caffeine Bomb (coffee, sugar and whiskey drink) to wake up in the morning. And it"s FAST. Although tis only 2:39 long, there are easily 3 times as many lyrics as there is for Shame On Me
. Usually a live favourite, due to the speed, and the staccato chant-along of "ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-caffeine bomb".
Despite being released as a single (which had it"s video banned because of a duel-puking scene), this track wasn"t actually on the original pressing of the album but rather was added later on.
6 - Loveshit
The song I long to hear live, but probably never will, as it requires a piano player and several female backing vocalists. The only time I know of it being played live was at a festival in support of AC/DC in Spain in 1996, where I guess they just made do without the piano and got CJ to sing as womanly as possible..
It starts off with a catchy-as-fuc
k clean guitar riff, before coming in with the typically clever and catchy lyrics (about the stupidity of the obsession with finding love). The female vocals come in on the chorus", gospel style in the background, as does the piano, which is jaunty, good-time piano, not sad melody. Totally awesome song. Lyrical gem:
It"s a popular myth that we"ve grown up with,
Since the age of mass design,
If it"s true romance, to be in your pants,
I don"t buy.
7 - Miles Away Girl
As the title suggests, this track deals with the girl that no one can ever have, because she only ever exists while you don"t have her - if anyone has seen High Fidelity, I equate this song with Rob"s explanation to Laura of "the fantasy".
Apparently this used to be played a lot during earlier tours (when they had fewer songs), but now only rarely, so I"ve heard it live only once.
Overall, it"s slower than most of the other songs here - the riff is just as catchy, but slower. The lyrical style basically sings the praises of this girl. I think this is where Ginger"s lyrical capacity went into overdrive, as there are so many incredibly good little lyrical bits here that it"s impossible to pick just the one:
She"s always busy caring, "cos that"s all she"s ever done,
She"s a thousand Florence Nightingales all rolled up into one.
She"ll send the men to slumber land, with just one little kiss,
Her silence is refreshing and her honesty is bliss.
Well, you never seem to have any money, "cos the decent people never get paid.
8 - My Baby is a Headfuck
Another sure-fire hit were it not for the provocative title, Headfuck
starts with a recording of a girl saying "Gee, mister, you got the best answering machine message I ever heard", followed by a semi-spoken word intro by Ginger about this girl who"s screwing him up. The big deal here, apart from the kick-as
s, crowd-pleasing chorus, is the solo, which is actually brilliant, but not done by any of the band, rather by Mick Ronson (the lead from David Bowie"s Ziggy Stardust incarnation), who this tiny English band somehow managed to get to guest on a track of the album, as well as produce it (the track, not the album), as well as being to whom the album is dedicated. Theirs also some really cool, Loveshit
-esque piano toward the end of the song. Rather than slowing down, this song just careens straight into..
9 - Suckerpunch
- 2:59 (single)
Short, fast and heavy, this is a fantastic live track. On record too, it stand out, not least because it blend in seamlessly from Headfuck
, with the drums building up to the start of Suckerpunch
- the drums are the big thing for the intro, being louder than they are for most of the rest of the album. The riff afterwards is fast and heavy, and Ginger"s vocals are a lot less like singing than usual, and slightly vocodered. It"s basically about getting your self esteem beaten to a pulp by a girl (possibly why it blends in from Headfuck
). Lyrical gem:
Can"t believe that I got so down, I dropped my guard again, hit me, hit me,
Palpitations and goo-goo eyes, the transformation is sad and sickly,
She pulled out a Tyson, from out of the blue, and met with a sickening crunch,
She got me, with a suckerpunch..
10 - News of the World
This is one of my favourites. It starts with a recording of a man laughing, repeated, so you"re hearing the exact same laugh a few times, before he finishes "oh..oh my", and then we"re launched straight into the song. The lyrics are sodding brilliant, about the state of the world and what should be done, meant half seriously and half jokingly. The riffs are solid and catchy, and later on get a good chance at some variety, as it"s one of the longer songs (and we all remember Everlone
, the other long one, with it"s rifftastic finish), but like I say it"s the lyrics that really shine. Lyrical gem:
I could hide in the Foreign Legion,
I could live in the south of France,
I could think of a thousand reasons, given half the chance,
But the pricks are the whole world over,
Every sex, every colour of skin..
11 - Drinking About Life
Short and sweet (and fast), and basically about being allowed to do whatever you want to your body (smoking and drinking-wise), because it"s your body and no one else"s. The song starts with some uneasy drumming, and then some guitar which sounds (and there"s no better way to describe it) drunk. Just easy, light-ish strumming, which quickly goes back to the guitar tone of the album. Loses some points because of the length, but otherwise it"s perfectly fun just to rock to for a couple of minutes.
It"s my solo party, it"s my body,
And if I choose to abuse it, with my lifestyle and my music,
What the fu[color=white]c[.color]k?
I can"t lose!
It"s my life.
12 - Love U Til I Don"t
Pretty much their traditional closing track for many tours. Another catchy riff, and a chorus designed to be sung along to make up the majority of the song, although it takes a totally different turn two and a half minutes in, slowing down for a small bridge, before going out on a high note with the band singing "Now honey, please!" over and over before the final breakdown and workout of riffs and drum rolls finish the song off, in a similar style to Everlone
(but with a different tune, naturally). The final drum blasts are a great way to leave the stage as well.
So there you have it. I know it doesn"t look like it, but I feel I have exercised great restraint in not simply tagging every song as 5/5 and having done with it. I personally think the Wildhearts deserved to conquer the world, in musical terms, and yet they never did; they never really got much support outside of the UK and Japan. I think their problem might have been, apart from being stupidly volatile, which resulted in many different members throughout the years, that they mix pop melodies and hooks with heavy riffs. For some this appeared as the perfect mix of two genres, but in general it seems that pop/rock fans find them too heavy, whilst metal fans find them too poppy. The fans they do get, however, tend to be very dedicated (some might say rabid), such as those on the Wildhearts mailing list.
Anyway, this album gets an easy 5/5 from me. As good a rock"n"roll album as ever was made. Catchy, heavy, melodic riffs and clever, sing-alongable lyrics all combine to make a fantastic album.
For fans of: Rock"n"roll, Backyard Babies, The Darkness (no high-pitched vocals though, so don"t let that put you off), Motorhead, Therapy?, The Hellacopters, UK Punk (like the UK Subs, Coc
k Sparrer), Cheap Trick, Metallica, Big Black.
[url]www.changesone.co.uk[/url] - really cool independent store and record label, stocks lots of Wildhearts and Wildhearts-esque stuff.
Notes on singles
The Wildhearts have always been a very generous band, in the amount of material they produce. Whenever they release a single, rather than having remixes or live versions of existing tracks, Ginger writes 2, more usually 3, brand new B-sides just for that single release. It"s bloody brilliant, as they"ve produced so very much over the years, and often the B-sides are as good, if not better, than the album tracks. In my reviews, I"m going to include reviews of these singles tracks, in the review of the albums from which the parent single was taken. For Earth vs., this means another album"s worth of song"s to review, but I"ll keep them short.
Greetings From Shitsville
(released October "93)
1 - Greetings From Shitsville
2 - TV Tan
3 - And The Bullshit Goes On
Being the first single they released, this lacks the structure of their later single/EP releases, including two tracks from Earth vs. and one b-side.The Greetings Shitsville
single was only released on 7" brown vinyl (all numbered "No. 2 of a limited edition"), which I"ve so far been unsuccessful in buying. Due to a Japanese import (they"re big in Japan, for some reason) however, I"ve heard the only B-side on it. And The Bullshit Goes On
is one of the less impressive tracks they"ve ever produced, and the riff in it reminds me strongly of another Wildhearts song which I can"t think of at the moment. This release is best left for hardcore fans and collectors only.
(released November "93)
1 - TV Tan
2 - Show A Little Emotion
3 - Dangerlust
4 - Down on London
Marketed as the TV EP
, this is the first release which would mirror the singles to come - three first class b-sides follow the album track. Show a Little Emotion
is right up there with Everlone
as one of my favourite tracks ever. The lyrics are excellent, the riffs are big, and it has one of the best bridge/outro sections they"ve ever done. Dangerlust
is the EP"s lowest point, but it"s still excellent, whereas Down on London
is lyrically in the same vein as Greetings From ***sville
..it seems Ginger really didn"t like London. Well worth the 4 or 5 quid you can expect to eBay it for CD, though it was also released on cassette, 12" vinyl and 7" pizza themed picture disc (with just the title track and Show a Little Emotion
(Released February "94)
1 - Caffeine Bomb
2 - Girlfriend Clothes
3 - Shut Your Fucking Mouth and Use Your Fucking Brain
4 - And The BullshIt Goes On
Yes, track four is the same track as is on Greetings..
. The brown vinyl was such a limited release that they felt it necessary to release it again. Girlfriend Clothes
is often one of the more fanatic Wildhearts followers favourite B-sides, and while I agree it"s good, I don"t see how it beats many of the others. Shut Your Fucking Mouth and Use Your Fucking Brain
is in much the same style as the title track, except shorter, faster and with more shouting. It"s about forty-five seconds long, and roughly half of that is the chorus, which is just the title. Tons of fun, though not as good as the TV EP
, which it was released similarly to, on CD, 12" vinyl, cassette and 7" picture vinyl (with Girlfriend Clothes
(released June "94)
1 - Suckerpunch
2 - Beautiful Thing You
3 - Two-Way Idiot Mirror
4 - 29 x the Pain
Was released on CD, cassette and 10" etched vinyl (with the 4 songs on one side and the Wildhearts" "smileybones" logo etched on the other side), the last of which I"m very happy to own. Beautiful Thing You
is a good strong song, which is still being played live today (I heard it live just two days ago). Two-Way Idiot Mirror
is one of the most asked about song titles on the [url=www.thewildhearts.com]website[/url]..I think it"s been decided to be about two idiots having a conversation, and I love the title. 29 x the Pain
is the mother of all b-sides. Probably the most commonly loved song amongst Wildhearts fans, it demonstrates better than any other that all their best stuff is not stuck on the albums. It starts with a quiet, but instantly recognisable and catchy, riff. The lyrics are all references to the bands Ginger listened to when he was young, either directly or indirectly, and there"s about 2 dozen references in there. There"s also a couple of different versions of the song, so depending on which you hear, there"s a little tribute either to Rich James or Kurt Cobain toward the end. If any single is essential, tis this one. And the TV EP