This is not a live album. But this might just be the best album of songs you will hear all year. It’s certainly one of the most fun and enjoyable.
This is not a live album although it was recorded live in a single 5 hour session at the home of Dave ‘the Well’, somewhere near St Ann’s Well’s gardens in Hove. Danny Green’s band had just come off the road after a successful tour and were on the top of their game, sounding as tight as tight can be. So basically, what you get here is a top band with an inventive neu-folk sound running through their full live set, ostensibly for a Simple Folk Radio session but without the annoyance of an audience or sub-standard recording normally necessitated by the ‘live’ environment. In fact, with Dave ‘the Well’ at the controls you’re getting a totally crisp and fresh re-working of a terrific collection of songs, some of which haven’t made it on to a Laish release before. I guess this is what recording the Beatles First LP was like (yep, and the sound here is definitely that good).
And it really is a terrific collection of songs.
The set starts with a reworking of ‘Visions’ from their new Obituaries album, and like many of the songs from that excellent album it is sounding new and refreshed here, clearly benefitting from time on the road and the crystal clear recording facilitated by the Well’s studio.
Second song ‘Warm the Wind’ is a Brighton Music Blog single of the year – a brilliant and hilarious song about a desperate man’s attempt to warm his partner’s heart, to little avail. Love is an object it says, something to make.- and he wants to make some. The ironic soft soothing backing vocals from the girls in the band are joyful, the playful whisps and turns of the backing musicians immaculate. Where else do you get to hear James Joyce mentioned in song?
And so it goes on. You get ‘Carry Me’, the song of the brilliant video about the penguin and the horse and Danny Green as some sort of guitar-playing hedgehog. Other songs from the Obituaries album (Vague, Discipline etc) have been reborn through touring and sound fresh and original in Dave’s recording. From the first album, ‘In the morning’, one of the most perfect love songs that wasn’t written by Neil Young. The marvellous ‘A Happy Accident’, about the chance in birth and life (that song about a hole in a condom) with the reaffirming refrain “I don’t know what to do with myself, I should probably just give up and try somethng else” (but no, don’t).
‘I am enraged’ which has featured in the Laish live set for some time but never made it onto a recording until now is probably the best song about Lewes or rather anti-Lewes, as a symbol of the compromises we have to make in life. The interplay between the band is electric. And then there’s the beautiful ‘We Speak the Mantra’, a perfect song for today’s austerity times, about being poor and staying strong. I guess Danny thinks he doesn’t do politics, but this is a very good political song, wrapped up in warmth and love and (as the song Vague declares, typically of Green’s songwriting) “full of pathos”.
The last song ends on a note of optimism, with a reminder that “we always have a choice”. You have a choice. Listen to this album or miss out on one of the most vital vibrant songwriters currently at work in Brighton or anywhere.
Buy Live at the Well at the Laish bandcamp site – out today.