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!