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Phillip Goodhand-Tait - The Last Laugh

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 3 / 2008



Phillip Goodhand-Tait - The Last Laugh
Label: Span TV
Format: CD

intro

Superb comeback album from 60's singer-songwriter and former Stormsville Shakers frontman Phillip Goodhand-Tait, who shows that forty years on he has lost none of his ability or ear for writing striking melodies and tunes


They say you always remember the first time; no, not just that, but the first time you do or experience anything that you go on to do many times throughout your life. Now, the very first gig I attended wasn’t one of Goodhand-Tait’s but if my fading memory hasn’t completely given up on me then I am sure that the Stormsville Shakers, the band he fronted, was among the first five acts I saw live. What I do remember is a friend telling me how good the band were and, being local heroes hailing from Guildford, it felt wrong not to show some interest at least. I can also remember this same friend being excited when one of Goodhand-Tait’s compositions, ‘Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday’ was chosen for the B-side of the Love Affair’s single ‘Everlasting Love’ which was to eventually hit the number position in early ’68. That band or their managers were obviously quick to realise that Goodhand-Tait’s songs were far too good to be hidden away on B-sides which resulted in ‘A Day Without Love’, ‘One Road’ and ‘Bringing On Back The Good Times’ being chosen as singles for the band. Goodhand-Tait also wrote some fine album tracks for the Love Affair like ‘Build On Love’ which is still played round these parts some 40 years after he wrote it. It was to Goodhand-Tait’s credit that he had moved so effortlessly from the r’n’b sounds of the Stormsville Shakers into the classic pop sound that the Love Affair made so popular. It made no difference that the Love Affair were criticized in the press at the time for not playing on their records. A good song is always a good song and that’s all that matters; with Goodhand-Tait’s name on the writing credits it was guarantee enough that at the very least the song would be great, despite who sang and played on the recording. But time changes everything and bands like the Love Affair hit hard times as the more reflective sounds of the solo singer-songwriters started to attract attention. Again Goodhand-Tait was ready for the change. Signing initially to DJM Records (home at the time to Elton John) then to the more hip Chrysalis label Phillip released a number of albums in the 70's with varying degrees of success. But having your songs covered by artists such as Roger Daltrey and Zoot Money just shows that Goodhand-Tait’s writing skills had not deserted him. Since then Phillip has been involved in various projects in the video / music field but it wasn’t until the early 2000's that he began thinking of recording his own songs again. In 2003 he played at the closure of Guildford Civic Hall with the original Stormsville Shakers which in turn led to more gigs and an album. That brings us to this latest collection of original songs, ‘The Last Laugh’. Quite what I expected to hear from Goodhand-Tait after all these years I wasn’t sure of but it is a pleasure to say that without a doubt he has lost none of his song writing prowess over the years. Renewing his acquaintance with one of the songs he wrote for the Love Affair , namely ‘Bringing On Back The Good Times’ was a worrying sign. Could he actually add anything to the soulful vocals of Steve Ellis after all these years or was it going to be a karaoke-like stab at former glories? While Phillip’s vocals are not as soulful as those of Ellis and the song is taken at a slightly slower pace than the Love Affair version the composer does add something to the song. While it can be debated that it lacks the punch of that 40 year old recording, it has brass and back-up vocals from Julie Staines and Lidia Cascarino-Close who feature heavily and impressively on the album, ( Phillip’s very own Sue and Sunny?) and proves that Goodhand-Tait writes songs that stand the test of time. The nine new originals are outstanding. Phillip’s lyrical wit is scattered throughout these songs, ‘I Remember Comedy (when it made me laugh)’ and ‘The Old Fool’s In Love Again’ (despite starting like the Batman theme) are prime examples. But these are not the annoying ramblings of the grumpy old guy Phillip reckons he is in the opening line of this album; when he does have a moan it is done with such humour it raises a smile rather than the blood pressure. I might well be alone in this, but none other than Randy Newman crossed my mind a number of times when I first listened to this album. Even vocally Phillip is not so far removed from Newman and lyrically he matches him every time. If ‘Paradise Grill’ is the sound of a grumpy old guy looking back over his life before facing the crematorium then Phillip is welcome to moan and groan to me for hours. ‘Even When The World Ends’ is a contender for the best love song Phillip has ever put to tape ; a touching ballad made all the more beautiful by the back-up vocals of Julie and Lidia which is further evidence that he has lost none of his talent for composing stunning melodies. This is one of those albums where the favourite song changes with each listen. At various times each and every one of these tunes has been replayed as soon as it ended with the thought that "now that’s the best song here", but if I had to choose just one song it would be ‘On A Day Like This’; the fade out with Phillip and the girls simply singing the title over and over is stunning. This album is better than we had any right to expect even from an artist as talented as Phillip Goodhand-Tait. Maybe by taking a break from recording for so long did the trick for Phillip, I’d be hard pushed to come up with any other artist who has been around as long as he has who is still making music as striking and relevant today as the music he was making all those years ago. Sure names could be mentioned but think of all the mediocre songs and albums we have had to endure to get to the good stuff, Goodhand-Tait, on this evidence at least, never lost his way.



Track Listing:-
1 I remember comedy (when it made me laugh)
2 Even when the world ends
3 Bringing on back the good times
4 The old fool's in love again
5 Heart condition
6 Not coming back
7 On a day like this
8 To find you
9 Paradise grill
10 Sanctuary



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