Groovy Uncle album number seven is here. There are more singers, more instruments and more songwriters. But it’s not all about size; deep down, this album is as introspective in theme as it is bold and brassy in sound.
Oh, and there’s a swipe at one D. Trump Esq. as well.
‘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.
And it’s two songs for the price of one today. Or, rather, one song sung two ways – in two decades.
The Kravin’ “A”s was the brainchild of Glenn Prangnell. His old band, The Offbeats, had reached a natural end, so Prangnell teamed up with Johnny Barker (bass), Bruce Brand (guitar) and John Gawen (later replaced by Wolf Howard) on drums.
Bruce Brand remembers that ‘The Kravin’ “A”s were trying to be a proper beat group. To make it proper-ish.’ They were much rougher around the edges than Prangnell’s earlier group – no doubt in part thanks to the company he was now keeping with former Milkshakes, Mighty Caesars and Daggermen.
But it wasn’t just the sound of the songs that were edgier now; the lyrics became more grizzled too.
And so ‘Tripwire’, from the band’s only album, Krave On (1991), is a searingly angry tirade against a girl whose done our hero wrong. Against a wonderfully detuned piano and a tight early Beatles/Kinks sound from guitars, bass, drums and backing vocals, the lyrics blast out with a furious Lennon-ish intensity: ‘I know you’re just the kind of girl who thinks it doesn’t matter/but my heart’s so angry like I’m on fire’.
The song was given a second lease of life when Prangnell, labouring under the moniker of Groovy Uncle started to work with Suzi Chunk. ‘Tripwire’ formed the B-side to the single ‘Look Back and Laugh’, also an old Kravin’ “A”s song from 2012.
With Suzi Chunk at the song’s helm, the song recalls something of the sound of Dusty Springfield classic. The music is red raw – possibly more intense in sound than the original – and Suzi Chunk belts the song out with all that she’s worth. If you didn’t already know when the song was recorded, you could quite easily be fooled into thinking it was some fifty years older than it was.
Glenn Prangnell’s aim, as Groovy Uncle, has always been to ‘play something we know’ – that was the name of his first album under the name. That doesn’t mean covering existing songs, but creating new, original songs that sound reassuringly familiar.
And in ‘Tripwire’ he’s definitely achieved it. Twice.