It’s not a predictable pattern if it takes you by surprise every single time. My Mate Ginger did it again with Headzapoppin’. It came out of almost nowhere. A teaser on his twitter just a few hot minutes (well maybe a few weeks) after Renaissance Men got the old band back together. Just a snippet of a song call Zap.
“Zap! Holy Crap! I think this medication’s booby trapped!”
That was it. Come the following Friday morning there was a pre-order link. The album could be seen already packaged in a powerful pop art sleeve. It was all strong typographic choices, block colours and retro ray-guns. I was ‘in’. At 5.55PM that night there was an online listening party for the pledgers. An instant download that day. Headzapoppin’ was the second five star album Ginger had put out as a solo artist in less than 12 months. He’d also returned to us the mighty Wildhearts from which he’d taken his name in their original form in-between those two Round Records. The Big Boys were back with perhaps the second or third greatest record they’d ever made (There’s nothing that beats that debut long player without getting Slash, Bowie or Richards involved). Once again quality songs full of rock and roll realness were ozzing from the Smiley Bone in Chief.
I might have mentioned it before but Ginger’s lack of pretense or barrier between him and the people who buy his records is a rare thing. He’ll be honest if his mood is low on social media, he’ll talk about walking his dog (Maggie! She’s beautiful and on Record Store Day this year he immortalised her on a limited edition shaped picture disc with entirely exclusive new material) he’ll recommend B-Movie Horrors he’s just watched and share a pint with a fan if they bowl up to him in the pub. He’s a good bloke that Ginger.
Later in the year The Wildhearts second comeback release Diagnosis covered similar lyrical territory to Zap from Headzapoppin’ in another beautifully packaged release. The mini album came with a giant NHS doctors prescription instead of more traditional liner notes and a lyrics as a comic book gatefold sleeve. Zap isn’t the heavy metal powerhouse Diagnosis is though. It’s got a lightness of touch power pop feel like Cheap Trick or Redd Kross.
Headzapoppin’ was a record of songs Ginger had kicked into life while walking his pup and waiting for the touring to start. It’s ten tracks of party music. There’s an ear for a pop melody, a propensity for a time change and lyrical focus points as varied as Zap’s mental health battle with the meds, Yorvik (My Hood)’s beautiful day in the neighbourhood and Saturday Matinee’s silver screen magic.
This track bounds along on lazer guided guitar strings and already familial melodies that can have you singing along before you’ve finished your first listen. It’s got a classic Wildheartsian time change groove that grinds yer bones for the last minute and fades out leaving you wanting more. There’s Bowie references, enough riffs to fill the first side of an album and a frothy melody dealing with a heavy subject. All in one song.
“Zap! Holy crap while the gift of life remains unwrapped, I’m floating in my craft can you hear me Major Tom”
It arrived exactly when I needed it. Packaged and pointed at exactly what I was responsive to. And like that, the summer was saved. And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Happy New Year!