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- Upstarts by Johnny Marr
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Sometimes you just have to sit back, relax and admit that you are good at one particular thing. For me: eating cake. But after a post Smiths career of veering this way and that, playing synthesizer, backing Chrissie Hynde, messing around with Modest Mouse and the Cribs, forming woeful Stooges like groups (The Healers), it’s good to see that finally Johnny Marr is utilising the skill he proved so many years ago; ie, he is a damned good and instantly distinctive guitarist.
I’ve heard at least two songs off his new album that made my ears prick up mainly due to their guitar slinging dexterity. Strangely, neither of those strong tunes have appeared as the lead 7” from his much anticipated debut solo album. Instead we get ‘Upstarts’ which is a fine enough slice of driving guitar music that sounds very much like The Skids (for the uninitiated: excellent pre Big Country Scottish post punk from Stuart Adamson & co). Marr would be the first to admit that vocals and lyrics aren’t his strong point but here plenty of energy and enthusiasm get him through.
On the flip the intro to ‘Psychic Beginner’ could only have been penned by the man who orchestrated The Smiths, although whereas Morrissey would have taken the track off into unexpected memorable paths, this vocal is workmanlike and pedestrian. But oh! Those guitars, particularly in the instrumental break. My tummy does a little flipover. Just think...no...no I can’t...oh okay I will...Stephen - are you there? Just lay down a few vocals down won’t you, leave the rest to Johnny and you can head off back to LA.
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