‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.
Ah, the home stretch. Not long to go now. It’s Monday. Christmas is on Friday. But there’s still work to be done. Welcome to the letter U.
The Love Family’s album, Out of Reach (2011) was a long time coming. The band had originally formed back in the dying days of the 1980s, with members having previously appeared in the line-ups of Swinging Time, Crystal Tipps and Alistair and Millions of Brazilians.
After a few EPs in the first half of the 90s and a song making it to the dizzying heights of the Radio 1 Evening Session‘s ‘single of the week’, the band fizzled away.
‘If we’d have had any sort of management – or anybody who knew what they were doing – we’d have probably done all right,’ Gary Robertson, the band’s lead singer and guitarist explained when I was researching my book. ‘It wouldn’t have been bad. We were pretty good. But it was just a disaster.’
The band’s reunion – and the emergence of Out of Reach – came thanks to the reunion of The Dentists in 2010. The Love Family were invited to reform specially to support The Dentists at their gig in Gillingham’s Beacon Court. The date was 26 March 2010.
‘It kind of awakened something,’ Robertson recalls. And that was how The Love Family came back.
Out of Reach is an album of two halves – both excellent. There are songs from the band’s earlier incarnation, such as ‘Body, Soul, Heart, Mind’ from The Happy Couple EP, the song which had so impressed Steve Lamacq at Radio 1. But there were other, newer songs too.
‘Up in the Air’ comes from the older selection of songs, having first appeared on the Burnt EP from 1992. It’s typical of The Love Family’s brash, thrashing guitar sound, beats all pounded out on six strings as much as they are on drum skins.
And the lyrics are a picture of frustration and irritation. Robertson sings from the point of view of someone dealing with an emotionally stunted antagonist. ‘Is it hard to care or just to show you care?’ he asks in the chorus.
Meanwhile, the verses show our narrator finds it a little easier to express himself: ‘I just want to bleed it out/I don’t want to heal’.
As with the tune, the lyrics are typical of The Love Family’s heart on its sleeve approach to song writing. Songs like ‘Gravity’ and, of course, ‘Body, Soul, Heart, Mind’ conform to this very emotionally honest template.
Not that ‘Up in the Air’ – or any other songs from The Love Family’s catalogue for that matter – sounds particularly miserable. As with The Wedding Present, with whom The Love Family share a similar palette, it wouldn’t be entirely inconceivable for some indie kids to dance to this stuff.
Find out more about The Love Family and plenty of other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.