Round Records/Pledge Music
Whilst baking those buns I posted about a few weeks back, I finally found the time in my schedule to consume in full the fan-funded album that was one of the big success stories of the summer. Yes, Ginger Wildheart, yes he of Wildhearts/Silver Ginger 5/Sonic Circus et al fame, rolled out a grand plan that fans got fully behind through the PledgeMusic platform, and there was no looking back. The budget way exceeded what was required to produce the record due to the huge number of donations. The project got bigger and bigger, as did the media frenzy, and when it even threatened to bother the top 10 of the officious album chart, ignorant journos were proclaiming how this ‘little known musician’ was taking on Coldplay and Rihanna, and winning – overlooking Ginger’s considerable success in the 90s with The Wildhearts, a time when being in the charts actually meant something.
Still, not to detract from the main focus here; is ‘555%‘ any good? Of course it is. Ginger has long been one of the UK’s unsung songwriters, with an unflinching knack of writing a chorus and a eye for a deft melody or two. The fact that its hard to really single out a duffer on any of the three CD’s Ginger and friends crafted for this album tells you all you need to know about what a stunning achievement this is.
That’s not to say ‘555%‘ is 100% perfect, but with an album like this its hugely important that it possesses a number of standout tracks as its anchors. From the get go, these are aweighed innumerably, with the straight up infectiousness of ‘Forget About It’ and ‘I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L Radio’, to the lengthier tracks like ‘Deeper in the Arms of Morpheus’ and the contemplative ‘Time’, which uses the quarter-hourly chimes church bells traditionally use as its underpinning riff.
Ginger Wildheart – I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L Radio
Arguably the second and third sets of ten tracks aren’t quite as strong but still contain their fair share of stonkers, including the sunshine of ‘Just Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow’, the rallying ‘Begin from Within’, and disc 3’s ‘Beautifully Blissfully Unsettled’ or ‘In Vino Veritas’ and right the way through, its an entertaining two-hour plus ride that all those who bought a ticket should rightly be thrilled to be a part of. The variation in each track and its lack of compromisation is a beholden joy, with Ginger more than ably helped by a supporting cast including Willie Downing (Jackdaw 4), Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines), Ritch Battersby and C.J. (The Wildhearts) and Victoria Liedtke. Yes, its an assembly, but one that Ginger has been able to call upon for years and its cohesiveness shows. You can’t buy that kind of collaborative experience.
Unfortunately, ‘555%‘ is no longer available as per the rules of the campaign, aside from a triple vinyl release from Ginger’s official store, but it is available as ‘100%‘, its commercial underbelly, which features four tracks from each set of ten as voted for by the fans, including many of those tracks mentioned in this review. If you were lucky enough to get hold of ‘555%‘ in its purest form, then treasure it – for the rest, only ‘100%‘ will have to suffice,