Gun – Calton Songs – Cherry Red Records out 14th October 2022
Gun are back with a new album after what has been a bleak few years through lockdown and the pandemic. If there was one positive thing to come out of it all was this new album. Jools and Dante Gizzi delved into Gun’s back catalogue during this widely felt inactivity within the music industry, revisiting some of the classics from their roots in the Calton area of Glasgow’s East End. This is the first album since the 2017 release of Favourite Pleasures, it goes without saying, Calton Songs will be an album that will have more than a few spins on your turntable. Having redeveloped some of the older songs with a more semi acoustic sound, is enough to grab the attention of old and new fans from the first track of the album, the addition of backing singers gives these already outstanding tracks more depth. Older Gun fans having experienced the first album Taking on The World, will relish the emotions Calton songs brings back to the forefront again. The songs speak for themselves, with subtlety stripped down arrangements, giving each track, a new lease of life enhancing the listening of the album.
The opening track, Backstreet Brothers, the bands last single, introduces the band, giving an insight into how they grew up on the back streets of Glasgow’s east end. Better days, ironically describing what everyone is looking for post lockdown, is the first song to receive the new arrangements from the impressive powerful vocals from Dante and the brilliant harmony from the inclusion of backing vocals takes the track to new levels. The inclusion of Coming Home, B-side of Better Days , a surprise to the album, with a combination of piano and acoustic mix delivers a powerful sound along with enthusiastic vocals, it is close to being one of the standouts.
Steal Your Fire and Word Up thrive with the added choir of backing singers, changing the style of the songs, stripping the sound back to basics, worked well in keeping the passion, power and sound of the full band. Title track Frantic from the bands newer albums delivers a powerful song flourishing under the new arrangements, beautifully pulsing music that goes along with the enthusiastic vocals from Dante. The highlight track from the album is Taking on the World, having given this classic song new lease of life with the brilliant acoustic rework, stripped back with a more country feel that carry’s the song along gracefully, a standout track after listening to the full album.
The excellent Crazy You shines with the addition of piano creating a bigger sound that really grips you from the start. Money (Everybody Loves Her) a huge track, gets a new lease of life, the new arrangements taking it to a new level, the fast-paced song is rocking from the off, with an excellent solo from Jools making this a standout track on the album. Fans favourite Shame on You sits perfectly with the new arrangements, bringing out the passion of the song with the excellent vocals by Dante.
The album, full of classic tracks, arrangement changes made throughout lockdown creating a refreshing sound, that takes nothing from the power of the original versions, as heard in the last few tracks on the album with Don’t Say it’s Over and Inside Out, both tracks grip you, taking you on a journey to rock n roll heaven. Next up still with the amazing new arrangement and back vocals was Higher Ground that you can feel the emotion running through the song, it is strong and rockier than ever, a clear insight into a shift in direction the band could be working on. The album closes with Watch the World Go By, perfect ending to an album with strong vocals from Dante and the backing of the Choir giving it so much passion.
This is a classic album that will be on your turntable for years to come, with every listen you’ll hear and feel something new from the classic hits. This must be the best thing to come out of lockdown for Gun, a true work of art. It will not take away from the original, but it stands out proud on its own, standing side by side with Taking on the World and Gallus, production is excellent throughout. Three words can describe this album, Powerful, Passionate and Rocking, this is without a doubt a must have album in any record collection.
Review by James Edmond