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Arm in arm
Nothings goin’ right (featuring Christy Moore)
You are my lover
Hatred is wasted
Feels like growin’ up
The second official studio album from Amsterdam.
Al O’Hare on Arm in arm
Albums are becoming a lost art – well, good ones are anyway.
Elvis Costello says he’ll never make another one, iTunes means that you can split a record up any way you like and just buy the songs you’ve heard and Prince gave his last one away with the Sunday Mail!
But albums define music lovers’ lives – they’re soundtracks to growing up, relationships, births, deaths, marriages … you name the occasion, any serious music fan will have a record that helped them through it.
Records used to define certain things: how a Summer would sound, what people would be wearing on the town and which gigs you’d be trecking to on a cold Winter’s night … the last record to do such a thing, arguably, was Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? back in the mid-90s – and, as I write this on a freezing cold December afternoon in 2007, that seems a long, long time ago.
Things have changed – people talk about songs, or ‘tracks’, these days and albums have been reduced to just gathering dust on a shelf, after your favourite songs have been downloaded to your iPod or computer.
That’s a shame – because music was supposed to be different to all them other forms of disposable entertainment out there … it was supposed to matter.
All the best albums of the last 45 years have great songs at their heart – pop albums like The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night, rockers like The Who’s Who’s Next, generation definers such as All Mod Cons by The Jam or Parallel Lines by Blondie and that modern-day classic, Definitely Maybe from Oasis.
All said albums are great – but they’re not all perfect, and therein lies the rub. Radiohead may have completed a masterpiece with OK Computer (although I’d never know, as I’ve never heard it) but it’s not a record that will live on in people’s hearts – by all accounts, it’s a piece of mechanical engineering, not a rumination on what it is to be a human.
All the very best records have a human touch – and a set of five or six songs that stay in the listener’s soul for the rest of their life.
Arm in arm, the imminent new record from our heroes Amsterdam, is such a record … and this is a guide to ‘Six of the Best’ from the forthcoming album:
You’ll have all heard it by now – the band’s latest single was played on Radio 2 nearly every night throughout December and the gang played it live on Janice Long’s show too.
Simply put, the tune is well on its way to classic status already – it’s getting hammered at Anfield on match day too – and is a favourite of most who have heard Arm in arm. A rousing, Celtic chorus arrives from the very depth of one of Ian Prowse’s most emotional set of verses and – without a shadow of a doubt – the singer’s best ever vocal delivery.
Under-stated electric guitar, throbbing bass line and the ache of a wounded violin all help make Home a Winter’s tale of tear-jerking proportions.
Arm in arm
The title-track – and what an anthem to have in the arsenal. Single contender and a free-flowing, stream of consciousness lyric and melody line that will never be separated – one of those songs that have been in the air for a long time and, thankfully, dropped into the soul of the right songwriter.
Twelve string acoustic guitars, E bow riff and the swells and sounds of a Hammond B3 organ pull at your heart-strings, until Ian Prowse’s determined shouts batter you into submission.
A wounded heart can turn into a dangerous, vengeful animal when cornered and cajoled – but this is a song of freedom … a song to celebrate a life lived, the way it’s always wanted to be lived.
Nothing’s Goin’ Right (featuring Christy Moore)
The one everybody is talking about – and the song Ian Prowse has been writing his entire life.
More twelve string acoustic guitars, a Celtic melody and a play-off between a violin and a flute that have something to fight for.
A bruised lyric perhaps, but another determined one all the same – it’s not the words, it’s the delivery you have to listen out for … and speaking of delivery, up steps “the uncrowned King of Ireland,” Christy Moore.
Christy narrates a poem, written by the singer, that takes the best of Shakespeare and Springsteen and turns into a proud lament of what it means to be a Northern son alive in this mortal coil.
Truth be told, it’s devastating – and worth so much more than what I can write here … some things are just best lived through.
Quickly establishing itself as a big one – thanks to numerous live outings, the BBC Radio 2 Janice Long session and another contender for a single.
Hey Hilary treads familiar Ian Prowse territory – a riff that manages to combine the best of Pele and Amsterdam , lyrics concerning the breakdown of a relationship and the combination of a heart-breaking verse melody, set to a life-affirming chorus.
The singer may have delivered some meaty chorus’ in the past – think Merseyside?, Joe’s Kiss etc – but this is a big one, epic almost and another brilliant vocal delivery.
Feels like growin’ up
A stone cold hit single if we’ve ever heard one – and a new recording which manages to take the song to a different place altogether.
Johnny Barlow shines with the E bow again – and the riff becomes the size of a small country, thanks to the doubling up with the violin.
But it’s the touches and flourishes of electric guitar that bring the tune to life – and create a wonderful, melancholic outro, putting you in mind of Noel Gallagher’s opus, The Masterplan.
Amsterdamsters the world over already know how good the song is – but check out the little things that make Growin’ Up one of the best songs Amsterdam have managed to get on tape so far. A classic.
Johnny Barlow finds the hot spot and brings you a little folk song you will be singing to yourself throughout 2007.
Sung beautifully by Ian – with some cracking harmony parts from Anna Jenkins – Johnny’s tale is one of love, life and the elements … as a bit of homespun wisdom and a melody as old as the hills, combine to create something magical. Gorgeous.