Album: HMS Blake
The South African record label Subjangle certainly seem to have their finger on the pulse, releasing an excellent and eclectic range of music in 2020 from the likes of The Crystal Furs and Alpine Subs. They’ve recently added Blake (the artist Julian Pugsley) to their roster and having given new release HMS Blake a spin, it’s easy to see why.
This is a hefty 40-track, two CD release, neatly split into two parts. Disc one concerns itself with Blake’s 1971 album (released earlier this year) plus an extra six tracks. Disc two covers an additional twenty tracks from Blake’s extensive back catalogue.
Blake’s story is an interesting one, his dad interviewed John Lennon for the local paper in 1969 and upon hearing the story, young Blake decided a career in music was the path he wanted to follow.
There’s plenty going on with a range of styles and influences on show, from the bar room rock out of Over And Over Again to themes of folk and far eastern bazaars on Metanoia.
Stand out tracks include Whenever which has strands of Belle & Sebastian running through it with strong, jangly guitars, rhythmic bass/drums and Blake’s whimsical vocal and Denied, a three minute or so slice of harmonious pop, it’s perfection in its simplicity.
Elsewhere, Vinyl Junkie will resonate well with (myself included) those obsessed with the never ending quest to complete their record collection and the poignant and heartbreaking We’ll Be Champions, a song about the four Palestinian boys whose life was brutally cut short as they innocently played football on a beach in Gaza in 2014 by an Israeli missile.
Blake isn’t afraid to show his Beatles influences, particularly on tracks like Pepper Man which pays homage to Paul McCartney and has a melodic, psychedelic vibe, and on the excellent Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams, where John and Yoko are name-checked in what is a harmony led, autobiographical track where Blake sings “I’m still chasing my rock ‘n’ roll dreams”.
On this form, we’re bound to hear more from the talented singer-songwriter.