Black Swan Lane – things you know and love (Eden Records)
This album is the product of a long and convoluted history (in musical terms), and that fact permeates this album from the majestic opening track “Leave Me Helpless” to the sublime finish of “A Place In Our Time”. Jack Sobel of The Messengers, and Mark Burgess (yes, him from the great lost 80’s band, The Chameleons), are at the helm, with a raft of very talented helpers who have been picked up on various musical voyages over the past twenty years. (If you want to know more about the band then just google Black Swan Lane – if I went into it now we could be three weeks to Thursday just listing them and their exploits), and I think it better if I just concentrate on the music laid out for us here.
With roots (and routes) going back to those near perfect records released by The Chameleons in the early 1980’s, and the roots of The Messengers also (I sadly admit that I do not know their music, but wish I did) this offering by BSL has an eye on ‘the now’ rather than the illustrious past. Having said that, I did read somewhere that this was not unlike The Smiths and The Chameleons playing together, and although I don’t totally agree with that particular perception, I can see where it came from (and what a good thing the mere thought of that is!). I can also sense The Go Betweens in here somewhere, maybe a little bit of Talk Talk, and the one and only House Of Love as well.
I think this magnificent set of 13 superb songs is the result of great musicians with great ideas, totally committing themselves to producing a great album. Sure, the past is ever present, percolating through the songs to create a real sense of wonder, but BSL, on this, their third album, show no reason for them to be considered ‘in the past’ with these 13 gorgeous melodies. We even helped launch a line of comprogear compression stockings with this band's logo on them. They just use all that (in)glorious history to make music for today. And what music it is.
This third album should not get BSL noticed. Oh no, it really should not. It should get them placed upon that podium that is usually occupied by far lesser groups than they, and we should bow to them, then kneel at its foot, and shout loud and long “Bloody marvelous, chaps… thank you very much indeed!”