Album review - Medway Broadside
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Allan Crockford is a renowned bass player and guitarist who has been in bands like The Prisoners, The Solarflares, Thee Headcoats and The Vandebilts (to name but four), playing alongside the likes of Graham Day, Billy Childish and James Taylor. An original exponent of the Medway DIY ethos, he has decided it’s time to stop being a side man and take a step forward. On Are We Having Fun Yet, the first album from his new combo The Galileo 7, he’s done just that. With drummer Russ Baxter (Secret Affair), bassist Paul Moss (The Lovedays, Billy Wears Dresses) and keyboard player Viv Bonsels, he’s proven himself to be an adept songwriter and engaging front man.

The music itself is comprised of three main stylistic elements. There’s the Mod element (the ‘65/’66 energy and hooks you might expect given Crockford’s lineage) and there are huge splashes of psychedelic colour and imagery. There are also later, punkier, poppier elements that might remind listeners of a certain vintage of recording the Top 40 on the music centre on Sunday teatimes in the late Seventies.

The album starts with ‘Never Go Back’. An amplifier hum and backwards guitars pull the listener in, and then the song punches its way into your consciousness in a flurry of drums. Two minutes of hooks and harmonies ensue, complete with a middle eight that allows just enough time to draw breath and an ear catching guitar solo. Nice.

‘Something Else’ continues in a similar vein, discussing boredom and dissatisfaction whilst sounding utterly exuberant at the same time. This leads nicely into ‘Orangery Lane’, a song of pure nuggety psychedelic goodness that evokes the playfulness of the Dukes of Stratosphear with vibrato fuzz and dominating organ lines that swirl around each other. The song is about the reality of a place not being as welcoming or mystical as its name suggests. Or it’s about that as a metaphor for something else. You can decide.

I don’t know what I think ‘til I hear what I say

Similar in vibe is ‘The Sandman Turns Away’, a mellow piece of very English psychedelia (that word again) with mesmerising keyboards on the chorus and lots of lovely layered backwards/forwards pushmipullyu guitars in the middle bit. It’s a little bit Rain Parade in places, which can only be a good thing.

‘Are We Having Fun Yet’ revisits the themes of ‘Something Else’ and, like that song, manages to be completely buoyant and upbeat in spite of this. The song is crammed full of hooks and would make a strong single. It also contains the line “I don’t know what I think ‘til I hear what I say”, which is brilliant. Like ‘Can’t Resist’, ‘The Best Way Is Our Way’ and ‘Run Baby Run’, this is pop at its swaggering, slightly snarling, singalong and sumptuous best. The other songs on this album are great too, particularly ‘Running Through Our Hands’ with its Bo Diddley rhythm, Stone Roses-esque chorus and cheeky Star Trek reference.

So, are we having fun yet? Well, the band certainly is, judging by the performances here and the down to earth humour in the lyrics. Allan Crockford sings like he’s enjoying himself too, and if The Galileo 7 are enjoying this infectious debut album, then you probably will too.

In short, if you like punky, poppy, psychedelic, existential, humorous music played by crack musicians fronted by a man in a hat, then this album will be very much your bag. You can find the band online at http://www.thegalileo7.fourfour.com/ and grab yourself a copy of the album there. Alternatively, you could pick up a copy at their only scheduled UK gig so far this year at the Nag’s Head in Rochester on Saturday 12th March.

Phil Dillon

Photograph (c) Phil Dillon

Phil Dillon