The Eighties revival continues with yet another absent friend returning to our midst, but as opposed to being in the lightweight mode (of Culture Club, Heaven 17 and Banarama among others), the re-emergance of Then Jerico (alongside the likes of Spear Of Destiny and Bunnymen) is a welcome one. Not only have they returned, they are taking the hard route to revive their past glories of chart success, by finally escaping out of their 80’s style, where they were a rock group trapped inside a pop group trying to break out. Here, they have succeeded, as ‘Orgasmaphobia” is their hardest sounding work to date.
It is an album of loud and screeching guitars, banging drums and rousing songs, as Mark Shaw and his new lineup strut out into the world, with footstomping, ballbusting guitar rock. The ballad type scarf waving numbers are still there, but are overshadowed by the more gutsy guitar driven tracks and of course, this approach may not ensure commercial success, but at least they have come close to the album they should have, but never made in the 80’s. But enough of looking back, lets look at the present and the possibilities for the future for Then Jerico.
Appearing on the CD cover dressed in a black leather basque, Shaw immediately sets out to notify us all of his departure from the 80’s pop world. Lyrically, the songwriting styles are similar to past glories, but musically the band have entered a new world. There is still traces of the pop in the music and Shaw’s smooth vocals are still there, but essentially, this album kicks it’s legs in the air as it swings it’s guitars and quite simply rocks.
Collaborating with his old songwriting partner and guitarist Andy Taylor, Shaw has pulled in the likes of Mick MacNeill (ex-Simple Minds keyboardist), along with the likes of Chris Childs on Bass, Paul Harvey (Guitars) and Andy Wells (Drums) to produce a collection of 12 new compositions, which together make an album that is overall big, brash and loud.
“Orgasmaphobia” may not sell by the bucket-load for three reasons – there has been negligible record company promotion of the album to date; the people who may like this music will struggle to hear it as it is not getting the airplay it deserves; those that do find it in a record store may not buy it because they may believe Then Jerico are still a teeny bop band as they were portrayed ten years ago.
So, what is the solution? I don’t have all the answers, all I can say is that this is a really good album that deserves people to part with their dosh. Kicking off with the blazing “Some People“, the lyrics are more statement making than in previous offerings, prior to the ass-kicking pounding “All In All” and “Never Surrender“, a song that is a triumphant number. The laid back tracks are “Feel You More“, a mid tempo ballad, “Never Ever Leave” which is a soaring creation, “Euphoria“, which makes the most use of sequencers and keyboards and the majestic “Breakdown In Paradise“, while the most surprising track is a spoken passage from Iain Banks (also entitled “Iain Banks“) from his stunning novel ‘Walking On Glass‘, read over a backdrop of scenic beauty, which leads into the footstomping “Walking On Glass“, which is a Little Angels/Simple Minds style stadium number, complete with big brass section. The title track opens with several female moans and groans, making way for a guitar screaming number coated with husky, gravelly vocals from Shaw. “Brotherman” has an exquisitely crafted two minute introduction, before erupting into one of the best tracks the band have composed. The final track is a raging arrangement where Mick MacNeill is allowed to go wild, as he is left to play all instruments, before it slips into a dreamy piano fade out.
All in all, the album, although polished in production and still retaining that ‘sound’ that was and always will be Then Jerico, is as close to proper rock music as we have ever heard from this band, and fulfils the promise that was there in the 80’s and is now being realised in the 90’s – if chart success is their goal, then it is all the more impressive that they are trying to achieve it playing the type of music their record company tried to muzzle in the 80’s. I hope they succeed.
Scottish Music Network