For The Record: A Tribute To John Wicks

For The Record: A Tribute To John Wicks is available from Kool Kat Musik.

From 1979 to 1982, The Records made history with three albums…Shades In Bed, released in the USA as The Records (1979), Crashes (1980), and Music On Both Sides (1982). Rhythm guitarist John Wicks and drummer Will Birch formed the band following the breakup of The Kursaal Flyers, adding lead guitarist Huw Gower and bassist Phil Brown. This was the lineup for their first album, which included two of their best-known tracks, “Starry Eyes” and “Teenarama,” both of which were released as singles. Several lineup changes occurred over the course of the next two albums, which were followed by various U.S. and International re-releases.

The new album is a bittersweet triumph, completed after John’s passing by an impressive cast of friends and fellow travelers. The album is magnificent, presenting a work of art that absolutely belongs in the hands of John’s followers. It’s on the same scale as the posthumous Ronnie Montrose release 10×10, assembled by peers who had been moved by his life’s work.

The album opens with the wonderfully Macca-flavored “The Sun Sets Over London Town,” with sharp Beatle-esque lyrics: “Decides to take an easy ride, selling bathtubs on the side, The family business pays the rent, his childhood sweetheart…heaven sent…”

“Repo Man” shakes things up with a cool, swampy Creedence “Green River” shiver, and spot-on, drawled and snarled vocals.

“Money And A Fu Manchu” tugs at the heartstrings with the lines “I don’t need a lawyer, I don’t need a friend, someone who pretends to be there, till the bitter end…I’ll do anything I wanna do, you won’t recognize the guy you thought you knew…” It’s irony delivered with a refreshing lack of irony, a matter-of-fact declaration of independence.

Songs like “(The Sordid Tale Of) Elvis Strange” and “1-800-Colonoscopy” up the offbeat and humorous factor, but also fit perfectly into the overall landscape.

The final three tracks…the soaring “Learning To Live Again,” the booming, twangy, Petty-like “She’s All I Need,” and the sweet, acoustic-based, harmony-filled “Chasing Angels” reveal John’s mastery of balancing the offbeat, fanciful tracks with more traditional “pure pop” numbers. Taking the album as a whole, the scope of creativity is staggering, the loss of a major figure in music is driven home in a powerful album that is equal an elegy and a celebration in equal portions. Yes, it’s January, and yes, this already enters the books as one of the best albums of 2020.

Here is the background story on this project, from Kool Kat Musik owner Ray Gianchetti:

Known for his work with/as The Records, John Wicks was about to record the vocal tracks for this latest batch of songs before his untimely passing in late 2018. In his stead, friends and pop luminaries have gotten together to see that his final compositions were completed. It’s a very personal goodbye and a testament to how much John was loved and appreciated by his peers.

The project was masterfully coordinated by Rich Rossi, one of John’s closest friends. Each artist involved has a personal connection to John. The project was produced by Jamie Hoover, and features contributions from John Wicks, Ray Paul, Peter Case, Jamie Hoover, Al Stewart, Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), Paul Collins, Don Dixon, Carla Olson, Bill Berry, Kyle Frost, and Nick Guzman, In addition, you’ll hear brilliant instrumental and vocal contributions from Dave Nachmanoff, Elliot Easton (The Cars), Andy Qunta (Icehouse, Factory), Chris Price, Syd Straw, and many others. Proceeds from sales will go to John’s son Perry, and to the American Cancer Society.