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 25 June 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





News: Teardrop Explodes vinyl reissues

20 07 2019

UMC / Mercury are releasing the first two Teardrop Explodes albums on vinyl in August 2019.

Kilimanjaro (originally released in October 1980) features:

Ha Ha I’m Drowning
Sleeping Gas
Treason
Second Head
Reward
Poppies
Went Crazy
Brave Boys Keep Their Promises
Bouncing Babies
Books
The Thief of Baghdad
When I Dream

Pre-order the Kilimanjaro 2019 reissue on Amazon

Wilder (originally released in December 1981) features:

Bent Out of Shape
Colours Fly Away
Seven Views of Jerusalem
Pure Joy
Falling Down Around Me
The Culture Bunker
Passionate Friend
Tiny Children
Like Leila Khaled Said
…and the Fighting Takes Over
The Great Dominions

Pre-order the Wilder 2019 reissue on Amazon





Date Stamp – the 80s (part1)

30 06 2017

Date Stamp – the 80s is the first in a series of blog posts attached to Spotify playlists I will be putting together, alongside my regular reviews of new releases.

sign o the times

The playlists will be a mixture of the familiar and lesser known songs, that I hope will shine the light on artists that you might not be familiar with. I would love to read your comments about the tracks I have chosen – please feel free to follow my playlists and share them.

I hope you enjoy listening to part 1 of my 80s Spotify playlist.

My Date Stamp – the 80s (part 1) playlist opens up with Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer, from the Rio album. The synth lines alone lead to its inclusion in this playlist. Save A Prayer was released in August 1982.

Next up is the only 12″ mix in the playlist. A brilliant Laurie Latham production, and one of my favourite extended versions from the 80s. Released in March 1983, Come Back and Stay can be found on the No Parlez album, and contains one of Pino Palladino’s most memorable bass-lines.

N_networkIt was difficult to choose just one Prince song for this playlist, and I know future playlists will include other songs from the Purple maestro, but I kept coming back to the Sign O The Times album, and particularly the power-pop of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, included here in its full album length.

The video for this track was a mainstay on Night Network, the late night weekend ITV show that preceded 24 hour TV.  I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man was released as a single in November 1987.

Mothers Talk was the first single from the second Tears For Fears album Songs From The Big Chair. The single was released in August 1984, with the album following in February 1985. Fairlight stabs, heavy sequenced synths and 80s nuclear paranoia drive this powerful song. The Roland Orzabal guitar riff on Mothers Talk is one of his best. The song may be synth and sampler heavy, but the guitar work (and the delayed and distorted bass and percussion in the outro) make this a standout track on the album.

If you are feeling flush, a deluxe edition of the album was released in 2014. You can read my review here.

wilderTiny Children from the second Teardrop Explodes album Wilder (1981) is one of the bands most commercial pieces.

Released as a single in June 1982, it sat comfortably with the other pop songs released that year, but as with all great pop music, scratch a little deeper below the surface and you will find much to savour.

“Oh no, I’m not sure
Not anymore”

A Secret Wish was the debut album by German band Propaganda. The album was released by ZTT Records in 1985, and was produced by Stephen Lipson with Trevor Horn. p:Machinery is my favourite track on the album, and one of the finest mid-80s singles. I love the percussion and crisp synths, and lead vocalist Claudia Brücken is still releasing new music.

Fade To Grey by Visage is one of the oldest tracks in this playlist. The single (the bands second) was released in 1980. The song was promoted by one of  Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s earliest videos.

lexicon of loveThe title song of this playlist is Date Stamp by ABC, from their debut album, Lexicon of Love. I’ve gone for one of the less-well known ABC songs, but its my favourite track from the album. It hits all the marks for me – great backing vocals, a stunning bass-line and some of Martin Fry’s finest lyrics.

“Looking for the girl who meets
supply with demand”

Lexicon of Love was released in June 1982.

Another lesser-known track is up next. Here Comes a Raincloud is from the second China Crisis album, Working with Fire and Steel. A fine ballad with a wonderful arrangement and beautiful production (from Mike Howlett).  The (real not synthesised) strings on this track still sound beautiful. A piece of pop magic from the Liverpudlians.

I’ve included the 10″ version of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark‘s Messages in my playlist. Another mighty Mike Howlett production. I love the hard sequences and the ever evolving bassline in this single from 1980.

I’m sure other Thomas Dolby tracks will feature in subsequent playlists, but I chose Airwaves as I think its a song that’s often overlooked. That chorus!

Airwaves features on the 1982 The Golden Age of Wireless album – I can recommend the excellent collectors edition.

I never tire of hearing Absolute by Scritti Politti. The mixture of sugar-sweet vocals and hard-beats hits the spot for me, even to this day. This Arif Mardin produced single from the bands period working in New York arrived smack bang in the middle of the 80s, and can be found on the album Cupid & Psyche 85.

A little journey back into the less-familiar for the next track on my playlist. Unless is from the debut Pale Fountains album Pacific Street, which was released in 1984. The slow-building percussion and reverb-laden synth mix with some heart-wrenching strings and an unexpected sequenced synth line towards the end of the song.

The band turned up the guitars for their final studio album, …From Across the Kitchen Table in 1986, before splitting, with vocalist Mick Head forming the band Shack, who have existed in various incarnations from 1987 to date.

44426-cafe-bleuI loved the early to mid-period Style Council singles and I’ve included the single edit of one of my favourites in this playlist. As with the previous track, some wonderfully detailed 80s percussion underpins My Ever Changing Moods. The song includes a typically great Paul Weller lyric and one of his best guitar performances from this era.

“The hush before the silence,
the winds after the blast”

My Ever Changing Moods was released in 1984 and can be found on Greatest Hits (this single version) or on their debut studio album Cafe Bleu.

Prefab Sprout’s Goodbye Lucille #1 (known as Johnny Johnny when released as a single) is a highlight of the bands second album Steve McQueen, which was released in 1985. The production by Thomas Dolby results in a timeless sounding album. Just listen to the intro – such wonderful separation between the layers of guitars.

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions released their debut album Rattlesnakes in 1984, and its release was preceded by the single Forest Fire in August 1984. The album was recorded in John Foxx’s The Garden studios in East London. I’ve always loved the simple but very emotive guitar solo that pushes the song to its conclusion.

Lloyd Cole has always been known as a great wordsmith, and Forest Fire and its lyrics of wild love and lust are an absolute joy.

“I believe in love, I’ll believe in anything”

I’ve included the title track from Deacon Blue’s debut album, Raintown, in this playlist. A fine production from Jon Kelly (who also worked with Chris Rea, Kate Bush and Prefab Sprout). Raintown is a strong late 80s albums, and its worth tracking down the 2012 Edsel reissue.

Primarily known for his signature song Wonderful Life, the late Colin Vearncombe’s Black have left us with a rich catalogue of  songs. My favourite track from the debut album Wonderful Life is the torch-song Paradise. The album was re-issued as a two disc deluxe edition in 2013. Which I didn’t know about until writing this blog – so over to Amazon I go.

“Life should never feel small”

I’ve included one of Thomas Lang’s less well-known songs in this playlist. Thomas delivers a heartfelt version of Jacques Brel’s powerful anti-war (and song of loss) Sons of.  The song was often a highlight of Lang’s live shows in the late 80s, early 90s. Sons of is available on Scallywag Jaz and More – the Best of…

“Sons of the great or sons unknown
All were children like your own”

age of plasticMy playlist ends with Elstree by The Buggles. Taken from their first album The Age of Plastic from 1980,  the haunting Elstree features some lovely piano and a convincing minimoog oboe emulation from Geoff Downes.

The Buggles only released one further album, Adventures in Modern Recording in 1981. The past few years have seen rumours of new Buggles music, which would please me greatly, as I am a big fan of most of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes work.

Ok, Elstree ends with the words “Cut”, and so does this playlist. I hope you enjoyed listening to all of the songs, and maybe you’ve discovered some music you were not aware of. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I hope to return to the 80s for another serving of the familiar and the unknown in the next few months.

The next playlists will be two collections of Alternative Jewels – one of older songs and one made up of some of my more recent favourites. Follow the Music Shack on Twitter to find out when they will be available.

To be informed of new posts, along with music tweets, please follow the Music Shack on Twitter @MkMusicshack.








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