Hey! Hello! – Hey! Hello!
The workaholic Ginger Wildheart has never been one to slow down, preferring instead to keep the record-tour-record cycle going almost 365 days a year. It’s truly remarkable then that throughout his career he’s managed to keep his musical standards, dedication and enthusiasm so consistently high.
Following the frontman’s monumentally successful toe-dip into the Pledge Music water, 555%, next in Ginger’s sights is an even more ambitious dual campaign. First up, the bi-polar Mutation, a brutally majestic racket created by Ginger alongside a whole host of guests as diverse as Napalm Death‘s Shane Embury and The Fall‘s Mark E Smith. Then, at the other end of the spectrum comes Hey! Hello!, a back-to-basics pop-rock effort featuring Ginger on guitar, bass, drums (for which he had to learn the instrument) and vocals, which he shares with his solo band’s Victoria Liedtke.
All of Ginger’s releases via Pledge have oozed with quality and Hey! Hello! is no exception. When the duo realised they had a couple of spare tracks knocking about, they decided to add a CD/download single in to the package without asking for any more money; they simply wanted to get more music into our ears. The A-side of that single (and album opener) ‘Black Valentine’ is a brilliant anti-love song, dictating the end of a relationship in a typically ironic, British way. Ginger and Victoria spark off each other amazingly well (despite having recorded their parts across the Atlantic from each other) and the soaring chorus doesn’t just put the track up as an album opener of the year candidate, it could well be the best of the decade.
‘Feral Days’ is similarly downbeat initially, but then does a fantastic job of slapping you in the face with a musical kipper to tell you that everything’s going to be alright. ’Why Can’t I Be Me Without You’ meanwhile, is one of those songs you could slice down the middle and even its innards would be sparkly pieces of joy. A mere third of the way into the album and you’re guaranteed to be grinning from ear to ear.
The latest track to be given its own video, ‘Swimwear’ is a ridiculously boppy piece of pop rock and ‘Burn The Rule Book (Fuck It)’ is classic, well, Ginger. It’s so tough to compare his music to anything else as he’s produced so much that he’s pretty much become his own influence. In making this record he’s pulled together 25 years of Wildhearts music, solo work, and various other guest slots, multiplying it all by punk rock and dividing the result by 80s lunacy in a truly masterful way.
‘Lock For Rock (And Other Sporting Clichés)’ belts out its opening ‘woah-ohs’ with gusto before assaulting your ears with a scuzzy, punky beat and some of the best harmonies on the record. Clap-a-long classic ‘The Thrill Of It All’ is another astounding paean to breaking up originally written for a certain Ms Courtney Love to perform, a lady with whom Ginger is currently touring Stateside.
‘How I Survived The Punk Wars’ is a resolute warning to all up and coming bands who think it’s okay to shirk the hard graft, but rather than just lecture us, Hey! Hello! craft a catchy as hell tune from it, merging The Wildhearts’ riffy swagger with megaphone-blaring instructions you’re unlikely to ignore.
‘I’m Gonna Kiss You Like I’m Going Away’ is a truly beautiful song, with a hook so gigantic, you’d fit a million coats on it. A tale of absence making the heart grow fonder, the song is so infectious you’ll be humming it in the most inappropriate of places throughout your day prompting others to question whether you’re on happy pills or just downright insane.
The record closes with the apt ‘We’re Outta Here’, a swirling psychedelic track telling of the world’s bees fleeing planet Earth. It’s this kind of joyous eccentricity that leaves you so open mouthed it’s all too easy to replay the whole album without pausing for breath. There are no fillers on here, no duff tracks, just 10 slices of unashamedly catchy rock and roll.
Unfortunately this Pledge campaign hasn’t been without its setbacks. When the Mutation half hit a snag (during production of The Frankenstein Effect CD, the original image became corrupted and low volume levels made it through onto the finished product), fans rushed to tell Ginger just to bang a replacement in with the Hey! Hello! package when it was ready rather than incur additional cost in sending it out separately. It’s this community spirit that has driven one of the greatest British songwriters of our time to produce arguably his best work yet.
There was even a sizeable delay in getting the physical record out, as the duo had decided to choose a particular artist for the cover art and so had to wait for the legendary Frank Kozik to slot the work into his frantic schedule. A worthwhile delay judging by the glorious carnage adorning the cover, this fan-funded effort lost no momentum and has already reached number one in the Rock Album Chart whilst also bothering the main Top 40 in its first week of release. Once again, Pledge Music proves that it’s a fantastic model for music production and distribution.
I’ve already listened to this album over 20 times despite only receiving my copy of the CD two weeks ago. Fortunately, the tracks were launched to those who had already pledged in download form last December during a universally acclaimed online listening party, and it’s this word of mouth marketing that is utterly ingenious and yet so simple; if your songs are good enough, people will talk about them and success will surely follow.
This is such an insanely good album that you’d enjoy it just as much if you were hurtling down Route 66 in your Mustang with the roof down, as you would whilst tickling around your Skegness bedsit with the Hoover. The record is an instruction manual on how not to fuck up, how to get on in the world and how sometimes you have to be selfish in love, all the while providing a feel-good high that’s been lost since the 60s.
Mischievous, infectious and yet undeniably pure, this is music as good as it gets.Hey! Hello! - Hey! Hello!,