37 Songs From the Deep Forest by Duke Special 2007
I had thought the days of polished smart pop that I used to love in the late 80s had gone for good . The televised karaoke had kicked it into touch.
Then this came out by Pete Wilson recording under the name Duke Special, the kind of record that could have sat beside Danny Wilson . Prefab Sprout etc. 20 years earlier.
I'd actually got one lp by Pete Wilson in an earlier guise (Booley) although I only realised it when researching an earlier post about the singer.
It has everything I love about music, smart lyrics , warm melodies that are as comfortable as old slippers , the kind of classic song writing with echoes to an earlier time and a bit of quirkiness in the arrangements
There are the seeds of some of Duke Special's more ambitious work here with a sense of theatre and at times vaudeville in the song writing and the arrangements. However strip away the strings and the brass and you have a set of tunes that become familiar so quickly you feel sure they must be cover versions
The songs seem more personal on this debut with later works more character studies/short stories, and each song has at least one killer line
"Save me from the movies and someone else's dreams" could have come from Paddy Mac's pen
The backings range from the wall of sound that is Freewheel (I don't want to stand still I just want to Freewheel has become his manifesto)
To songs of fragile beauty
To big pop songs
I'll leave with the lp highlight, stick with it as the mindless gig chatter slowly dies away due to the power of the performance. If you've ever lost a friend too soon then I defy you to listen to this and keep a dry eye
If by a chance this is new to you and you miss the days when pop music could be smart then give this a go. You can buy Songs From here