E D Brayshaw
This is one of those albums that it is all too potentially easy to overlook; it’s not by a well-known name (not unless you’re a Wily Bo Walker fan, with whom E D has collaborated, which still means you’re quite an endangered species), has a non-memorable cover design and kind of a terrible title (presumably playing around with the Free title but not really making any kind of sense). This would be a crying shame, however, as it’s really quite marvellous!
I didn’t engage with it on first hearing, slightly put off by the low toned gruff vocals (normally a bad sign unless you’re Johnny Cash or Lou Reed etc). Having played it innumerable times since I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one of the best original guitar-based albums of the year; not only that, but having had a chance to listen to them properly these songs are not just vehicles for some fancy fretwork, but actually have something interesting to relate.
‘Say What You Will’, second track in, sounds like it could have been on the Radio 1 playlist in the mid-evening slot before John Peel came on back in the 80’s (hosted by Kid Jensen or Janice Long!), all sharp chords and vibrant playing that put me in mind of a mature Eddie & The Hot Rods. ‘When the Walls Come Down’ has a similar period feel with a prominent bass line propelling the song forward.
The album opener ‘Hadn’t I Found You’ has a totally retro feel with the guitar tone and style set to classic Carlos and features some superb, squealing soloing. One of my favourite tracks is the lively ‘Hear the Rain’ which has a catchy chord sequence for the verses, played arpeggio, backed again by a lively bass line. The fabulous solo breaks sound like John Perry’s work with the Only Ones. In fact, the track sounds like a cheerful Frankenstein of a creation, welding that band with the Stranglers (if Dave Greenfield had been given the day off).
The album ends with a lovely instrumental called ‘Twilight’, that has the melody carried along by picked chords over which E D plays some excellent Bluesy solos. The bass is again excellent. This is a really fine collection. E D doesn’t quite have the same connotation as EC but is well worth checking out all the same. These are the sort of songs and style of guitar playing that puts a smile on the face!