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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Valor del Corazon

"Strength of Heart"

Title of the forthcoming double album from Ginger, troubled & talented ex-frontman of the Wildhearts. This is a band possibly more famous for its history than its music. Here's my favourite press clipping about them (reproduced happily on their own website!)

31 December 1997 The British music weekly NME publish their '1998 Almanac', a set of predictions for the coming year. The July 1998 entry reads: "The Wildhearts split up and reform again 11 times in two days. The trauma eventually becomes too much to bear, and they accidentally split up while already apart, imploding in on themselves and creating a single being. He is a small naked Italian man called Alfredo and he beats himself constantly." Wildhearts fans worry that the truth might be even stranger.

This solo album (one in a long series of side projects) is the product of Ginger's mid-life crisis, rawly documented in this account. It might well have been titled "The Man Who Cheated Death", after one of the tracks (hear it here).

Most Wildhearts stuff provokes a "noisy, innit?" reaction from people hearing it for the first time. But it isn't shouty noisy. There's always a core, a heart, of sweet melody to it, with lyrics that are intelligent & often witty, rather than inane or miserable, making the whole experience a strangely upbeat one. Ginger's music, especially "The Wildhearts must be destroyed" has got me through many a dark night. If ever I'm in a coma, just play me the opening chords from any track on that album....

Outside the Wildhearts, he ranges across genres. One of the side projects (Clam Abuse) has a glorious spoof country song, "Unlucky in love", & Valor del Corazon, with its 19 tracks, looks likely to be entertainingly eclectic.

I saw the Wildhearts live once (you had to be quick, as they tended to split up before the ink was dry on the gig tickets). It was when I was going through a bit of a wild phase myself & I thought it quite "cool" that I went home with a black eye from colliding with a fellow mosher. (I should probably add that I'd left 40 behind then. Mid-life crisis & I are old friends. Yes, my kids were faintly embarrassed.) But this year I also caught a Ginger solo gig at Leeds, as part of my "getting out more" campaign (a New Year's Resolution that can be spoken of, because I achieved it!). That was brilliant - a couple of hundred people at most, crammed into a smoky room at Joseph's Well in Leeds. We were very near the front, we weren't even the oldest people there, & it was like he & assorted guests were playing for a bunch of mates. Which we were, in a way. Definitely one of the highlights of an excellent year!

One of the most interesting aspects of Valor del Corazon is that Ginger has told the "recording industry" where to stick their corporate crap. It's released on his own independent label, through an exclusive deal with HMV, with all the pre-release publicity done by fans. We got a call, one day last week, via his mailing list, to spread the word. So I did my bit, by posting announcements into a handful of online forums & newsgroups. Not as adventurous as putting up flyers, but very much in keeping with how I live now :-)


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