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It's All Over Now
Favourite Album Reviews
Missing in action to one degree or another for over forty years, 70's country-rockers Brinsley Schwarz’s final album will properly see the light of day on Mega Dodo on April 28th. The aptly named 'It’s All Over Now' was recorded at Rockfield Studios with producer Steve Verocca, who was brought in to steer the project toward an American audience.
Despite Brinsley Schwarz’s management’s legendarily disastrous attempt to break America the first time, with a badly planned press junket and publicity event surrounding their Fillmore East debut, they were determined to give it one last try with this album. It may well have done so, too, with a pub rock by way of Nashville sound and the first recording of singer Nick Lowe and guitarist Ian Gomm’s song 'Cruel to Be Kind'. The problem was that the band was also in the process of breaking up.
The album was shelved for the first time and languished on a shelf at Rockfield Studios. Meanwhile Brinsley Schwarz had launched the successful careers of its members: Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm as solo artists, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews as the nucleus of The Rumour, and Billy Rankin as a member of Big Jim Sullivan’s Tiger.
In a rescue effort that should earn Ian Gomm a service award for the arts, he prevented the album’s master tapes from being destroyed in the 80s. “When I came to Wales to work at this recording studio, and help build it, Royal Studios it’s called, we had a sixteen-track recorded there that took two-inch tape,” Gomm says. “We’d wired the studio up and wanted to test it, and I thought two-inch tape, that’s what that Brinsleys album was recorded on. So I phoned up Kingsley Ward at Rockfield Studio and said ‘Do you remember that Brinsleys album that never got finished?’ And Kingsley said: ‘Funny you should mention that we’re clearing out the tape library this week and that’s going in the dumper.’ So I got in my car and I drove that afternoon to Rockfield and rescued it. Then I mixed it down because I had the studio time.”
'It’s All Over Now' was again scheduled to be released in the 80s but was then withdrawn – for a second time. Undaunted, Gomm sold CD-Rs of the album for years on his website.
The album sounds like a bar band on the verge of a massive breakthrough, but the choice of material designed to achieve that breakthrough in America is somewhat odd. There is the expected country-tinged rock, but there’s also a strange glut of AM radio sweetness emphasizing sugary harmonies and nods to early soul. The band’s interpretation of white soul works best on their brilliant version of Garnet Mimms’ 1966 hit 'I’ll Take Good Care of You' but is baffling on 'God Bless (Whoever Made You)', recorded by Jona Lewie a few years later.
Nick Lowe’s voice is rich and unabashedly sentimental, somehow cutting through the heavy orchestral backing on 'As Lovers Do' (written by Dave Edmunds) and 'Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)' that seem taken from early 60's American pop vocal groups. Lowe uses his effective and now well-established narrative voice of a wayward lover, who is well aware that he is a bit of a bastard, swanning back into someone’s life on 'We Can Mess Around' and 'Private Number', either of which could have been an early Rumours song.
The lovely early version of 'Cruel to Be Kind' here is much mellower and less choppy than the well-known hit from Nick Lowe’s solo album 'Labour of Lust'. A similar version was recorded for the B-side to Lowe’s 'Little Hitler'. It’s by far the strongest original track and undoubtedly would have been the first single off 'It’s All Over Now'. Glimpses of Rockpile to come, 'Everybody' and 'Give Me Back My Love' are the hardest rocking and least treacly moments on the record. There is a pointless instrumental, 'Do The Cod', and a silly reggae version of Bobby Womack’s 'It’s All Over Now' that was hopefully recorded when they were all very high indeed.
Brinsley Schwarz’s compelling story as a hardworking band enduring strange twists in their career can be found in the accompanying book from Mega Dodo: Brinsley Schwarz: Happy Doing What We’re Doing (https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/merch/book-brinsley-schwarz-happy-doing-what-were-doing.)
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KImberly Bright examines influential rock act Brinsley Schwarz’s last album, 'It’s All Over Now', which finally sees an official release after forty-two years
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