Plenty – Enough album review

14 05 2021

Enough is a double CD collecting two 2021 Plenty (Tim Bowness, Brian Hulse and David K Jones) ‘lockdown’ projects, plus the first ever release of the band’s original 1980s demos.

The album is split into three parts over the two CD’s:

Old / Borrowed were recorded between Spring 2020 and Spring 2021, whilst Older has recordings from between Summer 1986 and Summer 1990.

Enough is wisely split into two CD’s – with the 2020/21 recordings on disc one and the older, late 80s demos on disc 2. This works well, as it feels like two separate albums to me, with a modern re-imagining on the first disc, and the fascinating (but obviously more low-resolution) demos that give insight into the genesis of the band on the second.

Plenty’s previous album It Could Be Home had an 80s sheen, whereas Enough feels like a 2021 release, with a real edge that makes the album sit comfortably in the here and now.

Disc one opens with the seven songs of Old. The most recognisable track will be the album opener Forest Almost Burning, that exists in Plenty demo form as well as on No Man Is an Island’s The Girl From Missouri EP. Like most fans, I don’t have a physical copy, and have never been able to track one down, but this modern take makes up for that.

The Plenty version is faithful to the original arrangement, but with an embellished soundscape and more powerful drums plus a fuller guitar arrangement (moving away from the staple chorused guitar of the late 80s). Whilst I love the fragility of the original versions, this is my favourite recording of the song (although sadly missing the Bowness “burnt to the ground” line, which makes a sneaky, almost subliminal appearance in the video). Blink and you’ll miss it!

The Walker was the track that took longest to seep into my twisted heart. It’s a sparse arrangement, with an addictive bassline, and angular guitar. The vocals remind me of Tim’s early no-man style, and the upbeat chorus belie the darkness of the subject matter. The lyrics were recycled on the no-man song Walker, that can be found on the All The Blue Changes compilation.

The Blessed One is one of my favourites in the collection. I’m a sucker for the Experiment IV (Kate Bush) / Alan Murphy guitar sound and the powerful drums from Charles Grimsdale make the song go down a treat.

Towards The Shore will be known to many from its inclusion on the Slow Electric album from 2011. This version breathes a little more, but retains its delicate charm.

you chase another dream –
the old one’s failed again

The Other Side (The Other Version) is the Plenty 2020 (it rhymes!) version of the track that featured on the Late Night Laments companion Cheerleaders For The Damned. This new version is fully fleshed, and no longer beatless, with some lovely electronica on display towards the end of the song.

Bleed A Little More features lyrics that crept into the early no-man track Bleed. The Plenty song is a very different proposition, more uplifting and nearer to the Plenty of It Could Be Home.

War Games By The Sea (Military Upgrade) is another Plenty updating of a Cheerleaders For The Damned piece. This new version is the definitive take for me, and is one of my favourite Bowness songs from this period of his career. The piano is fuller and the drums from Tom Atherton give this song an incendiary power missing from the previously released version.

“even names grow old and tired,
like the children that we sired –
strip the paper from our ancient walls”

The final five songs on disc one are the covers, titled Borrowed. They veer from quite traditional to totally unexpected in their performance and arrangements. All are respectful versions. New Brighton (It’s Immaterial) shines a light on one of the finest Liverpool acts of the 80s, who were much more than their most well-known song, Driving Away from Home (Jim’s Tune). The Plenty version has hints of The Blue Nile, and is a warm, affectionate performance.

The cover of Suzanne Vega’s Soap And Water (from Songs in Red and Gray) would have worked well as a straight cover, but Plenty dial up the tempo and add a ton of electronics to give the song a very different skin. Lyrically, seemingly a song of separation and how it affects the children left behind when a partner leaves, there are echoes of prime Pet Shops Boys in the performance and the arrangement. The touch of urgency adds something new to the song, which is always good to hear in a cover version.

“Daddy’s a dark riddle
Mama’s a headful of bees
You are my little kite
Carried away in the wayward breeze”

I have to admit I struggled at first with the cover of The Teardrop Explodes Tiny Children. One of my favourite songs of the 80s, the original is seared into my soul. The Plenty version swaps the majority of the synths with piano, and like Soap And Water, has a tempo not present in the original. I learnt to separate the two versions, and then I could fully appreciate the Plenty version.

“Oh no, I’m not sure about
Those things that I cared about
Oh no, I’m not sure
Not anymore”

I love the way the song organically builds, and the vocal performance from Tim is restrained and calm, which suits the song perfectly.

Forgive Me (Kevin Coyne) I did not know before hearing this version, so I had no preconceptions. If I had not known this was a cover, I would have presumed this was a Plenty original, as it suits their style.

The final Borrowed track is the biggest surprise. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) is totally shorn of it’s country / Americana roots and when compared to the original, simply does not compare, its like a totally different song. And you know what, it works!

Along with the subtle electronics, there is an almost blues underbelly to this version, which I was not expecting. The lyrics were always tender, and the performance on this version mirrors that tenderness perfectly.

The second disc I treat as separate to the main album, as the performances and the audio quality are steeped in another decade. There is a wonderful moment in the first demo, The Other Side, when what sounds like a ringing telephone can be heard in the background. I love found sounds, especially accidental ones.

Other highlights from the demos include the David Sylvian inspired (with Steve Jansen sounding percussion) Sacrifice, which later became Flowers At The Scene‘s Ghostlike. Sacrifice still works well even after all the years have passed, and will appeal to fans of Sylvian / Japan (even though Tim has never vocally sounded like Sylvian).

The demo of Brave Dreams on Enough I prefer to the My Hotel Year version. The synth lines are hauntingly beautiful, and it has more emotion and depth than the later studio version. I would love to hear a modern re-recording of the song – maybe a live cut, using this arrangement. Its my favourite out of all the demos.

“We get into the car, and sit without talking”

Towards the Shore cannot quite compete for me with the definitive 2020 remake / remodel, but there is still a glorious charm to this version, that has some of the spirit of one of the more neglected Bowness projects, World of Bright Futures (1999) from Tim Bowness & Samuel Smiles. Its a good way to end the demo disc, as a glimpse into the music that would soon arrive in the form of the beginnings of no-man.

Enough is released via Burning Shed on 9 July 2021.

Tim Bowness: Vocals, Backing Vocals, FX (on Old 5)
Brian Hulse – Guitars, Pianos, Synths, Drum Programming
David K Jones: Bass, Fretless Bass, Double Bass, Bass Pedals

with

Tom Atherton – Drums (on Old 7)
Michael Bearpark: Guitars (on Old 4 and Older 2, 4, 5, 6, 7), Fretless Bass (on Older 7)
Peter Chilvers: Piano, Synths (on Old 4)
Charles Grimsdale – Drums (on Old 3)

Old

  1. Forest Almost Burning (Bearpark/Bowness/Hulse/Jones)
  2. The Blessed Ones (Bowness/Jones)
  3. The Walker (Bowness/Hulse)
  4. Towards The Shore (Bowness/Hulse)
  5. The Other Side (The Other Version) (Bowness/Hulse)
  6. Bleed A Little More (Bowness/Hulse/Jones)
  7. War Games By The Sea (Military Upgrade) (Bowness/Hulse)

Borrowed

  1. New Brighton (Campbell/Whitehead)
  2. Soap And Water (Vega)
  3. Tiny Children (Cope)
  4. Forgive Me (Coyne/Coyne)
  5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Williams)

Older

  1. The Other Side (1986) (Bowness/Hulse)
  2. Forest Almost Burning (1987) (Bearpark/Bowness/Hulse/Jones)
  3. Sacrifice (1987) (Bowness/Hulse)
  4. Brave Dreams (1990) (Bearpark/Bowness/Hulse)
  5. Broken Nights (1990) (Bowness/Hulse)
  6. The Walker (1990) (Bowness/Hulse)
  7. Towards The Shore (1990) (Bowness/Hulse)

Produced by Plenty
Mixed and Mastered by Brian Hulse

Artwork by Carl Glover

Old and Borrowed recorded between Spring 2020 and Spring 2021
Older recorded between Summer 1986 and Summer 1990

Visit the Tim Bowness store on Burning Shed

Visit the no-man store at Burning Shed


Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: