27th May 2016
The most listened to track on the German Shepherd bandcamp page is “Cheers Mate” by Trigger Happy from that labels “Salford Streets” compilation. It outperforms the next best track by around 250%. That fact is a testament to, and a confirmation of, the good music that Ed Blaney can and has delivered over the years. Blaney has, of course, other than his first band, the aforementioned Trigger Happy, had a long association with Mark E. Smith and The Fall, whether in his role as band member, manager, or his joint work with Smith. This new release is the culmination of a long desired wish to produce and release his own material, and continues that solid working relationship with Mark. Other key partners in this release are Jim Watts, who many will remember as a key writer in The Fall, as well as local legends The Inflictors and other notable bands like Ugly Radio; the exceptional Jenny Shuttleworth aka Girl Peculiar, and Ed’s daughter Bianca, a successful artist in her own right.
Across 33 minutes and 10 songs Blaney delivers a fascinating range of material. Starting with the anthemic “High On You”, a track which echoes the working class rock and roll of Trigger Happy, with busy drums and bass, searing guitar and real Salford muscle. Blaney is the LS Lowry of rock, reflecting the area he grew up in, and lives in, through his art. The opener is a positive reflection of the city of Salford, its vitality and variety. Next up is “Poison Fishes” a glam rock stomper with a strong political message and instantly recognisable interjections from MES.
“Thinking of You”, lead by Smith, is pure proto-punk in a Velvet Underground/Seeds style with a searing keyboard , a nod to Sky Saxon, and one of those guitar breaks which is magical because it is not overplayed. “The Coat” harks back to the original Smith and Blaney releases as the two protagonists discuss various matters over a rolling, punchy post punk/rock sound, before moving into one of Smith’s spoken word pieces. Fascinating stuff.
“Diamond” is a rock and roll love song with a great chorus. Things get a little more pop oriented with the more reflective “Time For You To Go”, Smith adopts his more recent gnarled vocal style for this tune, which has that 60s Nuggets vibe about it. Jenny takes the front seat for the ever excellent “Secrets” which has appeared previously as a Girl Peculiar release. Pure pop magic with a beautiful ear-worm of a chorus, a song which deserves a huge audience and great success.
The Blaney trademark tune “Rude All The Time” is up next, in a slightly different form, but still keeping it’s punk/rock core. It’s full of Pendleton swagger, good time vibes, and dynamic changes. The experimental “Mettle Claw” harks back to the initial “Smith and Blaney” albums and has an ethereal other worldly feel to it. The rich layering of vocals and guitars is hypnotic. Matters conclude, as they should, on a high, with the stunning “Winner”, a funky little number which is rich with emotional content and brutal candour. Along with “Secrets” this is the highlight of a fine album.
This release is proof positive, yet again, of the richness of the music scene around these parts – notably Eccles, Salford and Greater Manchester, and a further testament to the no nonsense hard work that Ed and his friends put into the local music scene.
Order the album now at www.blaney.co or grab it from your favourite local record dealer or on-line store from 27th May. The album is launched at my local chinese nosherie the excellent Pacifica Cantonese in the heart of beautiful down town Eccles on 27th May, a mere five minute walk from this computer.