1. Don’t Poke The Bear
2. Grey House
3. Things People Want
4. Who’s Wearing The Trousers
5. Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion
6. Friends Make The Worst Enemies
7. Feeling My Heart Run Slow
8. You Don’t Really Know Someone ‘Til You Fall Out With Them
9. Can’t Get Fairer Than That
10. Feel Like I Wanna Stay
11. The Inner Wheel
Former Mansun front man Paul Draper finally got around to releasing his first solo album ‘Spooky Action’ back in August last year. It received mostly positive acclaim and for me it feels like a progression that Mansun might have made had they stayed together. I believe that this collection of songs existed in demo form for some time before they were afforded full recording and production. Has that helped their development and genesis? Obviously I can’t provide you with a definitive answer for that, but it sure feels like it. This is a fantastic collection of songs that are underpinned by great emotion and immensely talented musicianship. I would defy anyone to say that “Don’t Poke The Bear” is among the heaviest and finest rock songs Draper has ever recorded. As for “You Don’t Really Know Someone” well that oozes soul through the lyrics and Paul’s almost gospel-like vocal delivery. My favourite song in this collection is a toss-up between “Can’t Get Fairer Than That” and “Things People Want”, largely down to their relentless and infective drive, hooks and melody that drill into your brain, set up home there and simply refuse to be evicted.
Why am I reviewing this album so long after its initial release? Well that is because a special edition will be available on February 16th which includes the original ‘Spooky Action’ collection along with a live album recorded at London’s Scala in September last year. The live set includes a number of songs from this solo album and some Mansun classics; notably “Wide Open Space” and “I Can Only Disappoint U”. The crowd reaction to both of these says it all, it feels like everyone at the Scala was singing along to every word. The solo songs sound even better live, and to be fair the recorded versions are pretty darned good. I always felt that Mansun were very underrated and were unfortunately badged in that whole BritPop genre, which frankly was never really a genre, simply a way for the press to collect the music of the time in a single box. I still believe that Mansun’s 1997 UK number one album ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ and their sophomore album ‘Six’ from 1998 are light years better and beyond anything BritPop mainstays Oasis recorded after ‘Morning Glory’. I will go so far as to say that the former is possibly one of the greatest albums released during the 1990s. The funky groove of the live version of “Grey House” would be worth the purchase price alone.
I am sure that any Mansun fans and people who have followed Paul Draper’s progress since then will be delighted with this excellent album. If you are a fan of smart, sophisticated Rock music then you should also check it out. It will take you through a whole gamut of emotions and feelings but I doubt that disappointment will be one of them. Paul will be touring the UK and USA extensively from February through into May and I urge you to see him if you get the chance.
Website - pauldraperofficial.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pauldraperofficial/
Review - Bill Adamson