Back in 2011, Glenn Prangnell assembled a group of musicians to create an album for his Groovy Uncle project. The result was an excellent 1960s influenced album by the name of Play Something We Know.
The aim was to record a set of songs which had something of the flavour of the decade they called swinging. Each song was to be different from the last – just like records used to be.
For Prangnell’s follow up, he’s recruited Cardiff based Suzi Chunk for singing duties. And with such a prominent role, it’s only fair her name should be on the tin.
Otherwise though, Girl From The Neck Down features more of the same. Or, to be more precise: more of the different. The Prangnell-penned album uses old and new members of 2011’s collective such as Bruce Brand (former Pop Rivet, Milkshake and Kravin’ “A” – more on this later) and Ben Jones to produce a diverse collection of songs you’ll swear you’ve heard before but – with a couple of possible exceptions – you certainly haven’t.
And so we are treated to the jaunty sing-a-long sound of the title track, a tune which could happily sit on a ‘Help’ or ‘Hard Day’s Night’ era Beatles album (had it featured Duane Eddy’s twang laden guitar). It is a complete contrast to ‘Wish Away The Moon’, a pondering, lingering acoustically driven song designed to sooth the most troubled of souls.
This is followed by the smooth bossa nova of ‘Probably Normal’ with a whimsical, wandering flute accompaniment. Elsewhere the lovelorn ballad ‘No Stone Unturned’ is a perfect showcase for Chunk’s excellent vocals in which she more than ably channels the spirit of Dusty Springfield.
It’s a perfect counter to the vitriolic ‘For The Millionth Time’, the album’s opener, which comes complete with funky, swaggering guitars (think The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Keep On Running’) and brass – and no little humour (‘for the millionth time will you stop exaggerating!’).
While most of the songs on Girl From The Neck Down have not been recorded before, Prangnell has dipped into his back catalogue of songs from his previous bands (he was The Kravin’ “A”s with Bruce Brand after The Offbeats came to an end). The results are fresh arrangements of ‘Got Any Mantras, previously featured on the ME1 compilation album with a different Groovy Uncle line-up, and ‘Look Back And Laugh’ which The Kravin’ “A”s originally featured on their ‘Krave On’ album.
The re-arrangements mean a move away from Lennon-ish snarls to whirls of organ driven psychedelia on the former and a distancing from the heavy McCartney-isms in favour of a more rounded Groovy Uncle sound on the latter.
Girl From The Neck Down is a perfectly crafted album. Much more than a tribute album to the sound of the 1960s, it is simply an excellent pop record.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore? You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Words: Stephen Morris