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Shed Seven - 'Going For Gold' (Reissue) Album Review


1. Going For Gold

2. Disco Down

3. Getting Better

4. Chasing Rainbows

5. Speakeasy

6. She Left Me On Friday

7. On Stand By

8. Dolphin

9. High Hopes

10. Bully Boy

11. Devil In Your Shoes

12. Where Have You Been Tonight

13. Ocean Pie

14. Mark

15. The Heroes

16. Disco Down (Parr Street Studios, Liverpool)

17. Going For Gold (Parr Street Studios, Liverpool)

18. The Heroes (Parr Street Studios, Liverpool)

19. Missing Out (Parr Street Studios, Liverpool)

20. Chasing Rainbows (Live At The Forum 15.11.1996)

21. Bully Boy (Live At The Forum 15.11.1996)

As anyone who has ever loved can tell you, love is the least rational of emotions. There’s no rhyme to it, no particular reason, it just happens. It can happen instantly, or it can smoulder for an age before it ignites into an all-consuming blaze, impacting on your every thought and action. And that’s why, as a music lover, I sometimes find that writing about music is incredibly difficult. I can describe the vocals, the bass, the guitars, the percussion, I can maybe even find some words to try and vaguely explain why I like a particular piece of music, but it only ever goes so far. When you truly love music (as I suspect you do, dear reader) it’s nearly impossible to explain exactly why a particular band or piece of music appeals to you so much. Some of my favourite bands have not always been seen as the greatest musicians (most of them have never been perceived as such), many songs that I love would never be included in a compilation of the greatest songs of our time, and conversely many songs that might appear in such a list would leave me cold. When I look at all the songs that I have ever truly loved, they all conjure memories; perhaps the first time I heard them, or the time I saw them played live, maybe they were playing when I fell in love with an actual person, or maybe I just remember bouncing around to them like a possessed kickboxing kangaroo with my friends (Longpigs’ ‘She Said’, I’m looking at you).

In 2013, following a Brett Anderson interview in a tabloid newspaper where he referred to crap boybands of the 90s, one Robbie Williams took slight, and listed a group of bands that he perceived to be “three chord wankers” who were undeserving of their success. Williams’ valid point that people are entitled to love all sorts of music, was somewhat obscured by the fact that he took a dig at many bands that people love, including Suede, Salad, Geneva, Kingmaker and Menswe@r. Regardless of whether or not these bands consisted of musical virtuosos, people love their music nearly unconditionally, and isn’t that all that really matters? The point I am, and I suppose Robbie Williams was trying to make, is that we just love what we love, regardless of how others perceive it.

One other band that Robbie Williams included in his list of “three chord wankers” was York Britpoppers Shed Seven. York may well be renowned for its incredible heritage, its beautiful architecture, its racecourse, its (currently) non-league football team and a whole host of other things, but it’s not renowned for producing a wealth of successful bands (certainly when compared to its Yorkshire neighbours Leeds, Sheffield and Hull). As a teenage Indie kid growing up in mid 90s York, Shed Seven were something to be proud of (I could never really take such pride in The Seahorses, as it was a Mancunian who really shot them to fame, if we’re being honest) a band from my home town, that people had even heard of when I moved to London for university. There were even York-centric references that I could smile knowingly at, as my new friends just bopped along blissfully unaware. As pretty much everyone in mid 90s York knew, there was a ‘massage parlour’ somewhat incongruously situated above The Early Learning Centre in the city centre, which explains the ‘Magic Streets’ lyrics “We went to the Early Learning Centre, with the money I had lent you, it’s the price of an education”. How could I not love them?

I first saw the band in 1995 at, of all places, the National Railway Museum in my home town, where they played as part of The Big Breakfast’s Eggs on Legs Roadshow. Not, it’s fair to say, the most Rock ‘n’ Roll of venues or occasions, but I do recall they played a fantastic rendition of ‘Bully Boy’ (which continues to be one of my favourite songs) complete with a small choir of children who were singing on board an open coal wagon as it was pulled by a steam train (yes, really).

Fast forward 24 years and Shed Seven are releasing a remastered and expanded version of their ‘Going For Gold’ greatest hits record, which was originally released 20 years ago. Added to the already impressive tracklisting are four tracks recorded at Parr Street Studios, which were previously only on the special edition of the album, and two hitherto unreleased live recordings of ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and ‘Bullyboy’ from The Forum in 1996. Despite not having released any new songs between 2003 and 2017, the Sheds have managed to maintain an impressive following which is evidenced by the continued success of their now annual Shedcember tour. This year’s tour not only includes their first ever (I think) arena headline show, but a whole host of pretty large venues many of which are sold out. It’s not difficult to see why they have an enduring attraction, the track listing of ‘Going For Gold’ is wall to wall bangers. From their Smiths-esque debut single ‘Mark’, to the crowd pleasing romp of ‘Disco Down’ (the newest track to appear on the compilation, despite being old enough to be married, have children, and hold down a steady job), the band have an undeniable ability to write fucking great tunes. 1996’s ‘Maximum High’ is arguably the band’s greatest long playing output, but to listen to that in isolation means missing out on the beautiful ‘Chasing Rainbows’, the aforementioned (and genuinely brilliant) ‘Mark’, ‘Speakeasy’, ‘Ocean Pie’, and a whole host of others. This compilation allows diehard fans and fans that are yet to be, the opportunity to access some of Shed Seven’s most memorable records, in one handy 21 track long album. As with any compilation though, thoughts wander to the songs that didn’t make the cut, and if I have any qualms with this release, it’s that they didn’t take the opportunity to extend it further and include tracks from 2017’s ‘Instant Pleasures’. The band’s first studio album for sixteen years matched the chart performance of ‘Maximum High’ by going straight in to 8th place, and deservedly so (well, they deserved better to be frank), with stand out tracks ‘Victoria’ and ‘Room In My House’ showing that the story is far from over and the band are still a force to be reckoned with, some 25 years after they released their first single.

If by any chance, you don’t know Shed Seven, or you sort of do but you don’t really think that they’re your thing, you need this record in your life. But then I would say that, I’m in love.

Review - Jon Stokes

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