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John Lennon McCullagh - North South Divide

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 13 / 9 / 2013

John Lennon McCullagh - North South Divide
Label: 359 Music
Format: CD


Outstanding debut album from fifteen-year old Doncaster-based singer-songwriter John Lennon McCullagh, who draws comparisons with the young Bob Dylan and which is the first release of ex-Creation Records boss Alan McGee’s new label 359 Music

‘North South Divide’ is the debut album release by fifteen year old John Lennon McCullagh, who is a very talented young man indeed. He is the first signing to former Creation Records boss Alan McGee's new label 359 Music, which is a collaboration with Cherry Red Records. John is from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and, like his Beatles namesake, he recorded his debut album in just a day. It was recorded in Sheffield with the ex-Creation head in the producer's chair. John first picked up a guitar and started to write at the age of twelve. Despite being only fifteen now, he frankly he outshines most of the other artists on the indie scene out there. He spent several years in Australia, where he was taken to see a show by Bob Dylan, and then he and his dad went on after that o attend another eight Dylan gigs over the next ten days. Despite the short amount of time John spent in the studio, it sounds much better than most albums that have taken years to record. Alan McGee has worked with both the House of Love and My Bloody Valentine whom spent huge pots of his cash delivering the goods, so this must have been a pleasant surprise. The twelve tracks of ‘North South Divide’ last just under forty minutes, and, like Bob Dylan's debut album, it is mostly limited to vocal, guitar, and occasional strings. Describing it as being limited to just vocals, guitars and occasional strings, however, undermines it. ‘North South Divide’ is a stunning piece of art, which shows a young man aware of his place in the world, and who is not just another school leaver, thrown into the world of a boring job. ‘55 Blues’ starts off ‘North South Divide’ with just an acoustic guitar and a raw nerve of a vocal, which is the best side of ‘The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan’ and that even at his young age is well travelled and well lived in. The title track, also a forthcoming 7” single which is limited to just 359 copies, features a superbly played guitar and true vision, which states quite clearly what future a young school leaver has in this grand land of ours. No one has been this political since Dylan or more recently Billy Bragg in the early 1980s, and got their point across so eloquently. ‘Long, Long Way’ is true masterful storytelling, well delivered, with added strings for extra sadness. ‘The Ballad of a Blue Poet’ has a hop, skip and jump feel to it, and with its summery tune is a festival highlighter in the making. ‘It Never Rains’ is ‘The Times They Are a-Changin', for the year 2013. ‘Rivers of Blood’ has a working class hero edge to it, and is another song about the state of the world. It merges thoughts on the prison system and politics all together in one song. ‘The Ballad of Mr Henderson’ is another potential festival number, as strong as anything that Oasis knocked out back in the day when they were still fresh young lambs. ‘Colour of the Sun’ is a travelling song, a song about going right on forward, while ‘Slipping Away’ is a summer-themed tune, with a golden- textured vocal and a real solid message behind it. ‘Short, Sharp, Shock ‘is commanding like its title and spikey-sounding, like a sharp slap in the face. ‘White Rose’ has a more traditional Dylan feel, while its vocal is much more rounded and smooth flowing. ‘The Strand’ is the closer and the longest piece here, and ends the album in chirpy fashion. It looks like a fine start for 359 Music from the man whom discovered Oasis, but don't forget Creation had much better bands in its stable before the Britpop world blew the doors open, that. This is definitely a label to keep an eye on, and so is this excellent new artist. John Lennon McCullagh is a great talent indeed.

Track Listing:-
1 55 Blues
2 North South Divide
3 Long Long Way
4 The Ballad of a Blue Poet
5 It Never Rains
6 Rivers of Blood
7 The Ballad of Mr Henderson
8 Colour of the Sun
9 Slipping Away
10 Short Sharp Shock
11 White Rose
12 The Strand

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Interview (2013)
Anthony Strutt speaks to 15-year old singer-songwriter John Lennon McCullaugh, who is the first signing to ex-Creation Records boss Alan McGee's new label 359 Music, about his debut album, 'North South Divide'


Photoscapes (2014)
John Lennon McCullagh - Photoscapes
Bill Gray photographs sixteen year old singer-songwriter John Lennon McCullagh, who was the first signing to ex-Creation Records boss Alan McGee's new label 359 Music

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