Monday 12 October 2015

Groovy Uncle & Suzi Chunk - Life's A Gift

Article by KevW

It's remarkable what twists and turns your life can take and also just what you're capable of. Songwriter Glenn Prangnell had been on the garage/beat group scene for many years, but had begun to take a back seat. Meeting a vocalist he was determined to work with was the catalyst for not only increasing his output, but penning what have been perhaps some of the best tracks of his career. Groovy Uncle & Suzi Chunk now have several releases under their belt, but new album 'Life's A Gift' is surely their best to date. Always with a passion for '60s sounds, the aforementioned garage/beat group leanings were given a soulful edge thanks to some powerful vocals.

'Life's A Gas' is still heavily influenced by that decade. The title-track is a gorgeous mix of west-coast harmonies, sitar, backwards guitar and classic sounding melodies, but as a whole this is a quite diverse collection. There's a very strong argument for opener, 'Your Tiny Mind', being the best tune they've made. The typical guitar sound is replaced by a soulful, Mowtown vibe with Stax horns and even a sax solo that could be from a Phil Spector recording. The production is impeccable and it has that timeless northern soul groove. It's not to be missed. Contrast this to the Small Faces-esque cockney knees-up (with a little comedy - think side 2 of 'Ogdens Nut Gone Flake') that is 'Tea And Cake' and you get an impression of how many bases they can cover to such a high standard.

There's plenty inbetween to get excited about too. 'My Destination' manages to give a US, almost Buffalo Springfield-like twang to the British invasion; 'Waiting For You' is more soulful and closer to the perfect pop of, say, Petula Clarke or even Dusty Springfield when sung by Ms. Chunk, and the bonus track is a version with Glenn taking the lead and flexing those vocal chords close to the power of Chris Farlowe or Steve Marriott. It's not the only time they touch on classic pop, with the waltzy 'My Precious Time' combining early Beatles guitars with an easy listening feel, and later on, 'Back To Me' inhabits a similar space. The familiar garage tunes aren't shunned at all, as 'Married To The Captain Of The Team' shows. It may have a few cheeky lyrics, but it wouldn't be out of place on a 'Nuggets' compilation.

The sweet, acoustic 'Joni's Birthday' has hints of McCartney and acts as something of a mid-album interlude before we're slammed into the most visceral song of the lot. 'You Fell For It' is a stomping rocker with a belting vocal from Suzi Chunk that almost rivals those early Tina Turner cuts, but if she'd been backed by The Kinks instead of The Wrecking Crew. If McCartney was the inspiration for 'Joni's Birthday', then 'This I Can't Get Away With' is perhaps the Lennon equivalent, certainly the vocals give him a nod, as does the mildly psychedelic edge, an effect that continues into 'It's What You Do' which again shows what a fine set of pipes Suzi has. This is a record that is trying to push boundaries. Not by venturing into uncharted musical territory, but more in terms of what "Unc & Chunk" are capable of doing; pushing their own limits in terms of writing, recording, arranging and production, and the result is something they can be proud of. 'Life's A Gift'? True, but listening to this album, life's a gas too.

Groovy Uncle's website

Suzi Chunk's website

Buy the album

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