…from Prince’s Park to Farsley – Volume I – The Gorstey Lea Street Choir (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The best-laid plans of mice and musos, eh? Although they have been friends since their 80’s youth, it wasn’t until 2016, 35 years later, that Michael Clapham and Russ Phillips finally collaborated on music. And after several singles, they now offer an ambitious full album, the beguilingly titled, …from Prince’s Park to Farsley.

And, as they say in football circles, it’s an album of two halves…they say that right? Sport’s not my thing but it sounds like the sort of thing they might say. The two halves being four tracks re-imagined and re-tweaked from their previous album, “extended play one”, and four brand new offerings written in collaboration with an old friend from the circuit Choque Hosein.

Right from the start, you realise that you are in some rarified sonic territory and Up With The Lark’s feels like the sort of thing that Richard Hawley would have wrestled you to the ground in a less than gentlemanly fashion to get his hands on. Delicate, poised and intriguing, it is everything that is needed in the mainstream pop world. We can but dream, we can but dream.

One Way Ticket shivers with psychedelic charm – hazy, pastel-coloured and shimmering with sonic delights and echoing Floydian vocal antics with the blasts of spoken word that pepper the tail end of the song.

The two recent singles appear here, Bluebird, Hollywood…Domino waltzing and whistful, That Chitty Bang Majik bouncing, buoyant and with something of The Divine Comedy about it. Lowbyrne (Ascent) sends things spinning into more ambient dance territory and Cinquante Cinq Six Huit is minimalist and mercurial.

It’s an album that blends quality songwriting with glorious adventurousness, toys with nostalgia which it then wraps up in sonics and styles that are able to smuggle those sounds, Trojan Horse-like, into the present day. In short, it’s a bit of “then,” a lot of “now” and no shortage of “where do we go next?”

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