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Groovy Uncle - Life's a Gift

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 7 / 3 / 2016



Groovy Uncle - Life's a Gift
Label: Trouserphonic Recordings
Format: CD

intro

Featuring Suzi Chunk, Kent’s Groovy Uncle return with their strongest set of tunes yet, this time mixing in Northern Soul and a little more psych to their 60's influenced sound


The spy-thriller vibe that ran through some of the songs on ‘Persuaded’, the fourth and previous album from Groovy Uncle, has been abandoned on this latest collection from Glenn Prangnell and his band. While he has thankfully not deserted the 60s beat combo sound entirely, there are still ample surprises in store which make ‘Life’s a Gift' the most varied yet satisfying set so far from the Kent-based band. Missing this time are the vocal contributions from Miss Modus but, hey, the lovely Suzi Chunk is still there on vocals so all is okay with the world. It appears that Prangnell had been listening to a little more soul music while working on the twelve songs on ‘Life’s A Gift’, especially that of the Northern variety. While Suzi’s vocals always added a sultry, soulful edge to the Groovy Uncle sound, this time round Prangnell has touched upon the more commercial, almost bubblegum strain of Northern Soul for some of the best songs on this latest collection. The album kicks off, literally, with ‘Your Tiny Hand’, and memories of the Tams ‘Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy’ come flooding back. Add in a little of the energy of Jerry Williams Jr.’s ‘If You Ask Me (Because I Love You)’ (the best 7” ever?) a touch of Edwin Starr’s ‘S.O.S’, wrap it all up in Pragnell’s own unique take on Merseybeat and you have a killer, irresistible opening track, one that it’s impossible to sit still to. As usual Prangnell is on top form lyrically too, even slipping in the words Northern Soul. While, as has been mentioned before, Prangnell and his band obviously respect the music that informs all their work and are serious about it, the way he injects humour into his lyrics is nothing short of brilliant. ‘Married to the Captain of the Team’ is just one example. A jolly, upbeat 60s sing-along pop number, there are lines in there that will have you grinning from ear to ear while wondering who Prangnell is aiming his sharp, witty lyrics at. Lyrically it’s hilarious, musically it will evoke memories of so many 60s beat groups and it’s brilliantly performed. An absolute killer. ‘My Destination’ although less humorous, follows the same path musically. Memories of those well-crafted 60's pop songs from the likes of Graham Gouldman spring readily to min. Prangnell really is that good. ‘Waiting for You’ (which actually brings the total number of songs up to thirteen as it’s featured on two versions, one with lead vocals by Suzi, the other with Prangnell taking the lead) slows proceedings down a little and, especially on the Suzi take, adds an R’n’B slant to their sound. Again it’s a song that could have been featured in an episode of 'Ready Steady Go!'. It would have fitted in seamlessly, but it still sounds so contemporary. The title track (with sitar!) displays the bands psych leanings, a side which Prangnell really should explore a little more. Yet again the band have taken their influences and shaped them into music that excites and impresses. ‘My Precious Time’ finds the band exploring yet another variation, this time Suzi’s vocals take on a dreamy, yet still soulful feel. it’s a lazy summer’s Sunday afternoon song, just perfect. Prangnell is no doubt going to get tired of the references to McCartney when ‘Joni’s Birthday’ is studied. A pretty, acoustic driven melodic diversion from the rest of the album it shows that Prangnell has gained the right to be compared to the masters of melodic pop. ‘You Fell for It’ follows and couldn’t be more different, sounding like the Kinks at their rocking best, Suzi blasts her way through the song with such gusto she must have taken a little sit-down straight after the recording. To prove that he’s a one man Lennon/McCartney on ‘This I Can’t Get Away With’ Prangnell forsakes the McCartney-isms of ‘Joni’s Birthday’ for his John Lennon moment. It’s got a slight Eastern, psychedelic flavour to it, which obviously places Harrison in there somewhere too, but vocally it recalls Lennon. Another absolute winner. The jangly ‘It’s What You Do’ mixes so many different strands of 60's music into one. The vocal by Suzi is again sultry and soulful, but maybe the biggest surprise is ‘Tea and Cake’, with it’s spoken introduction it brings back memories of Immediate-era Small Faces and even the Love Affair album. While not the strongest song on the album who can resist a good old knees up, especially at the end of an album? Mine’s milk, two sugars and none of that poncey fruit stuff please, Glenn. The album actually closes with the bonus Glenn Prangnell vocal cut of ‘Waiting for You’, which shows that, while he may not be up there with Miss Chunk in the soulful stakes, Prangnell is only slightly behind the 60's Steves when it comes to putting his all into a vocal performance. ‘Life’s A Gift’, the best so far from the Groovy Uncle guys and girl and a guaranteed lift to any dark day. It’s simply fabulous.



Track Listing:-
1 Your Tiny Mind
2 My Destination
3 Waiting For You
4 Life's a Gift
5 My Precious Time
6 Married To the Captain of the Team
7 Joni's Birthday
8 You Fell For It
9 Back To Me
10 This I Can't Get Away With
11 It's What You Do
12 Tea and Cake
13 Waiting For You


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Groovy-Uncle/355746567693
http://craftweb.org/web/glenn/index.html
http://craftweb.org/web/glenn/index.html
http://groovy-uncle.co.uk/


Have a Listen:-






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interviews


Interview (2014)
Groovy Uncle - Interview
Malcolm Carter talks to Glenn Prangnell, the front man with 60's-influenced Medway-based act Groovy Uncle's recently released third album, ‘One Vowel Away from the Truth'

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One Vowel Away From the Truth/Life's a Gift (2020)
Groovy Uncle - One Vowel Away From the Truth/Life's a Gift
Malcolm Carter reflects on the reissue of two of 60's pop-influenced Medway-based band Groovy Uncle’s finest albums on extremely limited vinyl.


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