The word “Prolific” is lazily lumped before every other artist and his dog’s name when it comes to musing over their catalogue of work. There aren’t many that come close to Ginger Wildheart on the musical output front, however.
Not content with churning out quality work at a tremendous rate, he also manages to reinvent the game every year or so, too. After spear-heading the fan-funding movement with phenomenal results you wouldn’t be surprised to see any other artist sit tight and make hay (or albums) while the sun is shining. Find a formula that works and stick to it.
That’s never been Ginger Wildheart’s style.
After making the Pledge Music model look like childsplay; he went off and made his own subscription service. G.A.S.S. promised 3 new tracks per month for a year, bonus demos, exclusive online content and more than you can ever imagine. It certainly delivered too…
So of the new tracks that were on offer, here are 12 of the best (according to the man himself.)
It’s a compilation album of the G.A.S.S. tracks and there is certainly a compilation feel to it. There isn’t a common tone or theme running through these songs as you would get on a completely new album born from one or two sessions. There are many shades of Ginger on display in ‘Year of the Fanclub’ but with the exception of a few foot to the throttle moments; this is the folky, acoustic and laid back Ginger Wildheart. For those familiar with his previous work, this is very much in-line with previous solo outings rather than The Wildhearts or Mutation et al.
But that’s not a bad thing as it only goes to accentuate the story telling prowess of Ginger. Try the simple but effective ‘If You Find Yourself in London Town’ for proof.
These songs were recorded over the course of a long year for Ginger, working with different artists and in different locations. A list that includes Courtney Love, who appears on track on the corking ‘Honour’ and also, certainly not featuring Henry Rollins. Well not with any musical input anyway, although old Hank does provide the inspiration for one of the standout tracks on here.
‘The Pendine Incident’ is wonderfully different to a lot of what Ginger has done before. A folky jig complimented perfectly by Kelii Compulsive’s duet, again with a strong narrative in the lyrics. ‘Toxins & Tea’ has some zany about turns and changes of pace that we’re all used to; reminiscent of something from the ‘Albion’ album.
Fear not if you’re after a straight ahead rock track. ‘No One Smiled at Me Today’ is just that, and would fit in comfortably on the likes of ‘Valor De Corazon’ album. The aforementioned ‘Honour’ also packs a pop-rock punch like the best of ‘em too.
If you’re craving some riffy Wildhearts stuff then ‘Ostracide’ might just do the trick for you.
It’s certainly an eclectic collection which probably plays into the die-hards arms more than the casual listener. Luckily, we like to think we fall into the die-hard category. Having said that, you’d be a cold hearted soul not to find anything here to tickle your fancy.
Anyone familiar with the G.A.S.S. material will know that there are plenty of gems that inevitably don’t make it onto this final cut. This is however a great insight into what went on in the secret society last year and a long-awaited physical copy documenting the G.A.S.S. work for those who crave more than just computer files and lists of tracks on your iPod.
If your interest is really spiked by this; we would probably suggest diving straight into the G.A.S.S. subscription, which is still running for a bargain price of £30. But there’s nothing to fault with this highlights package. Nothing at all!
In a dark period of time where people are losing their musical heroes on a weekly basis it’s not uncommon to hear people to bemoan that there is nobody to replace the Lemmy’s or the Bowie’s.
The truth is, rock stars of the past are irreplaceable. Rock music is more underground today than it has ever been, and in a time where people assume that the internet gives more exposure than ever to musical talent; you really have to dig a little deeper to find your idols and heroes of now. You won’t find Ginger popping up on mainstream TV very often but to a certain niche out there he’s just as big as any household name. ‘Year of the Fanclub’ is just another reason to celebrate one of England’s finest song writers out there.
GINGER WILDHEART ‘YEAR OF THE FANCLUB’ is released February 12th