Huge apologies about the terrible pun – it’s the sort of thing you’d cringe at when you picked up an NME in the mid 80s.  But as far as I know, it’s one I’ve come up with by myself.

There’s loads can be said about Ben Watt – the laziest and easiest thing I can do is refer you to this wiki page.  Hard to imagine that back in the 90s, he experienced a very rare and life-threatening illness with his recovery only enabled with the removal of 15 feet worth of intestines….I read the other day that he’s going out on tour this year with a band that will feature Bernard Butler on guitar; the pity for me being that his Glasgow gig on Saturday 28 May coincides with me being away that weekend so I’m sadly going to miss it (but I will be back in time for the following night’s big event which is Robert Forster playing at King Tut’s……)

It seems that Ben will be including tracks from his 1983 debut solo album within his setlists.

North Marine Drive is a very good but not great album. While it is a work that predates anything he made with Tracey Thorn, it is very evident that it is a close relative to the first few Everything But The Girl LPs. It’s also an album that I reckon Paul Weller listened to a lot back in the days for there’s quite a few of the songs quite similar in mood and tempo as many an album track or b-side by The Style Council. It’s really no surprise that Ben and Tracey ended up guesting on Cafe Bleu.

So why do I say good and not great??

Listening to it afresh all these years later, I still can’t find anything to criticise about the five tracks that make up Side A. But I still get annoyed by the opening song on Side B – Waiting Like Mad – and it’s all down to the inclusion of a saxophone piece that makes it sound like some sort of inoffensive but totally bland bit of muzak that wouldn’t be out-of-place at dinner parties where guests were more interested in the sound of their own voices and boasting about how quickly they would make their next million on the stock market.

It’s five minutes of hell in an album that is only 33 minutes in length, containing 8 original Ben Watt compositions and a Bob Dylan cover. It’s a record I played a lot in my student days – always without fail skipping Track 1 on Side B – and it’s a record that takes me right back to a particular era when life did seem so much carefree and less worrying; when getting out of bed before noon wasn’t a necessity; when your circle of friends were always around you and you saw them every day, and when I was umpteen stone lighter, thinner and there was more hair on the top of my head.

Oh and to when I dressed exactly like Ben Watt in the picture above….even in the summertime. Except for the white cotton socks. Could never bring myself to wear them.

mp3 : Ben Watt – Some Things Don’t Matter
mp3 : Ben Watt – Empty Bottles
mp3 : Ben Watt – North Marine Drive

Happy Daze indeed…..hard to take in the fact that it was 33 years ago!



  1. His book about his illness ‘Patient’ is a very good read. Not what you expect to go through as a young man, or a pop star.

  2. This is a great post, from the laugh out loud title through to the fine tunes. I’m certain that we each have a select clutch of records capable of transporting us instantly back to a far more innocent time in our lives and you captured that sensation very touchingly in your penultimate paragraph.

  3. “he experienced a very rare and life-threatening illness with his recovery only enabled with the removal of 15 feet worth of intestines”

    Wow, that took a lot of guts!

    Don’t blame me, you started it…

  4. Just goes to show you how two or more can love an album but for different reasons. Waiting Like Mad is my go to song on North Marine Drive – an album full of go to songs for me. It’s the one Watt solo song I always wanted to hear Tracey sing as well.
    Watt’s 2014 album Hendra was a highlight of that year’s releases and his latest track made available when you pre-order the new album on iTunes (no I wasn’t paid for that), Gradually, is superb. Ben and Bernard have upped the grittier side of the sound they laid down on Hendra.

  5. his second book, Romany and Tom, is even better. actually, it’s more or less brilliant, not the least when you have parents around their 70’s by now. and then his thorn in the side does even better, writing books that is. haven’t you read Bedsit Disco Queen by now it’s definitely time to!
    Musically his 2014 album Hendra is well worth a listen, and looking forward to the new Fever Dream due to be released April 8.

  6. Remember hearing Some Things on a Sunday afternoon radio show and buying a Pillows and Prayers compilation on the strength of its inclusion. Still love the song. I must confess to white sock wearing, but with suede lace-ups rather than slip-ons. I would have loved to replicate Ben’s hairstyle, but couldn’t – envious of my 17 year old son who can!

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.