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Groovy Uncle - A Clip Round the Ear

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 31 / 10 / 2017

Groovy Uncle - A Clip Round the Ear
Label: Trouserphonic Recordings
Format: CD


Sixth album of perfect 60's-inspired pop from Medway’s Groovy Uncle and Suzi Chunk which reveals itself to be their best yet

Medway’s Glenn Prangnell is a bloody genius. I’ve absolutely no idea how many years this guy has spent on this planet but he’s spent that time soaking up the sounds of the 60's and 70's, not just from the beat-boom era this writer had initially slotted him into but from other genres as well from Northern Soul to film soundtracks and everything in-between. ‘A Clip Round the Ear’ (even the title will have those of a certain age grinning) is Groovy Uncle’s sixth album and is housed in yet another brilliant sleeve perfectly depicting the sounds within. I just hope that 'The Beano'-inspired image that adorns the pre-release CD we have here is going to be part of the vinyl album sleeve too, if ever an album should be bought because of the sleeve art… So Prangnell can reproduce perfectly the sounds of the golden era and make them sound fresh and contemporary, he knows how to dress his albums in eye-catching art and that makes him a genius? Consider this; I’m constantly told that Ray Davies of The Kinks is a genius. Agreed he wrote one of the greatest singles of all time in ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and he showed a talent for setting perfect little snapshots of suburban life to memorable melodies. It’s about time that Glenn Prangnell was given the same accolades because over the course of half a dozen albums he has proven time and time again that there are very few (if any) that even come close to his own astute observations on everyday life and the average Joe. And Prangnell can write melodies that lodge themselves into your head and simply refuse to leave; not just one or two scattered throughout a dozen songs but a whole album's worth. ‘A Clip Round The Ear’ is Prangnell’s latest collection of 60's-hued pop music, a dozen original songs played with the same passion and insightfulness that has informed all his previous work. The wonderful Suzi Chunk again provides soulful vocals. The contribution Suzi makes to Groovy Uncle is substantial; a more powerful contemporary singer would be hard to find, at least one who can handle so many different styles as Suzi can. But despite Suzi’s incredible vocal performances it appears that Prangnell, who has always also shone vocally, has found a new lease of life on this album. The album opens with ‘Mrs Saywell Says’ which finds Prangnell reflecting on school days in his best Merseybeat style but this is where Prangnell shows that he deserves not only the Ray Davies accolades but then some. His wry observations are coupled with wit that surfaces more than Davies ever showed even at his 60's peak. It’s a frantic opener, showcasing Prangnell’s accomplished vocals, his knack for penning catchy melodies and his gift for injecting his songs with humour. It’s a perfect introduction to Groovy Uncle in fact. ‘I Thought It Was About Time’ follows and it’s heart-melt time. With opening guitar which sounds like it’s lifted from some 70's soul classic, it’s Suzi’s first lead vocal on the album and is simply gorgeous. There’s a Motown vibe going on in there and Suzi’s vocals on this ballad are beyond description, and the emotion she pours out as the song closes is breathtaking. When is this exceptional singer going to get the recognition she deserves? ‘Our Gary’s No Fool’ is another 60's flavoured gem; Prangnell takes lead vocals on yet another shrewd observation on family life. Again the humour in Prangnell’s work sets him apart from others who are trying to achieve a similar goal. ‘To the Moon And Back’ forsakes the Merseybeat and Motown influences for a more garagey sound. It displays that Suzi’s soulful vocals are well suited to more than just one genre of music. This song really tears the place up, a Friday night floor filler that doesn’t let up for a second. With a dirty, cranked-up guitar solo it’s a trip that will leave you breathless. There’s a touch of Sergio Mendes exotica to ‘I Really Wouldn’t Know How’ a sound that Prangnell has touched upon before. Conjuring up images of a lazy, late summer afternoon it shows not just another side to Prangnell’s songwriting skills but also to Suzi’s ability to tackle any genre and win. ‘Oil and Colour Man’ closes the first side of the album; while the song would be a highlight of many albums it’s not the best track on ‘A Clip Round the Ear’. Prangnell’s shrewd observations are present and correct and those Merseybeat influences are pleasing, but the spoken vocal interjections sound like they are Prangnell trying to do his Small Faces ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ bit when, in fact, it comes across more like the baseball section on Meatloaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’. Calling the protagonist Stan also reinforces the Small Faces connection; lyrically it’s a brilliant piece of writing from Prangnell, very sharp, and the song irresistibly stomps along but without those spoken passages it could have been so much more. A minor niggle and the only criticism that can be made on such a strong album but these ears would love a version without those spoken parts. ‘The Scheme of Things’ is another beautiful ballad where Suzi takes lead vocals. It’s simply perfect. A song about a love that’s reached the end, again Prangnell proves just what a strong lyricist he is and the light salsa vibe of the song is perfectly complimented by Suzi’s wistful vocals. And so the album progresses; mention has to be made of ‘Invisible Man’; Prangnell revisiting mid-60's Beatles, more Lennon as usual than McCartney, a killer melody and a brilliant vocal performance from Prangnell, it stands out as a highlight on an album that is full of little gems. That is until the following ‘Things I’ve Been Meaning to Say’. With Suzi and Prangnell sharing vocal duties it’s another Beatles-influenced tune and simply a perfect pop song; more evidence that it’s really impossible to pick out just one single track as a standout. Any discerning pop music fan shouldn’t be without any of Groovy Uncle’s albums but if the name is new to you then make ‘A Clip Round the Ear’ your first port of call. It’s the best so far from Prangnell and company. For those who think that they don’t make them like they used to then stop reading and go to https://groovy-uncle.co.uk to find out more about how to get this album into your life. Because you need it. I’ll say it again, Glenn Prangnell is a genius and occupies a place those that used to be described that way only fleetingly visited. Six albums in, Prangnell is still developing while holding on to his original vision. In this field currently there is no one who does it better.

Track Listing:-
1 Mrs Saywell Says
2 I Thought It Was About Time
3 Our Gary's No Fool
4 The Moon And Back
5 I Really Wouldn't Know How
6 Oil And Colour Man
7 The Scheme Of Things
8 Got Up And Gone
9 Invisible Man
10 Things I've Been Meaning To Say
11 Above My Station
12 Now Your Pain Is Over

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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'


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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