Andy is writing in the first person so it must be personal…..
It’s an odd thing. Maybe it’s peculiar to MV, becomes but when music really matters, a diary becomes superfluous.
So it is that this reviewer doesn’t need to consult any journal to remember exactly when the PHUQ album came out, if required the recollection of what happened that day, where it was purchased, who I travelled with on the bus to Birmingham with, could all be recalled without hesitation.
Which is why, when last year The Wildhearts announced that they were reforming to play it all the way though, it had such resonance. It was particularly so for me, given that not only was one of the finest records ever made 20 years old, the show that I was to watch was around a week before my 40th birthday. Quite how the hell PHUQ had got that old seemed intertwined with how the hell I had managed to myself. And if the general suspicion that it had aged better than me was always there, then it was confirmed by the gig itself.
I have written before about the love I have for The Wildhearts. On the review of the gig I wrote that if this album came out tomorrow it’d be album of the year and that remains absolutely the case. This live album, recorded during that jaunt last Autumn proves it.
Over the years I have wrestled with this – the bands second full length record – was or was not better than the seminal debut “Earth vs The Wildhearts” album, but listening to “Never Outdrunk Never Outsung” (the title was given by a fan who described the audience) I have to conclude it is. It is most certainly their most successful commercially, crashing into the charts at number 6 when it emerged in the Spring of 1995.
It is also – arguably – the most ambitious, with just about everything contained within it’s 14 songs. “ .Outsung” is faithful to the record (except the addition of that fourteenth song, the charmingly titled “Up Your Arse You Fucking Cunt” which is the new name for the instrumental bit in-between “Jonesing For Jones” and “Whoa Shit, You Got Through”) and the excitement still rips out of the speakers as “I Wanna Go Where The People Go” kicks in. The song still finishes Wildhearts gigs to this day, and at the time added to the legend of the band given that after they recorded a video for it in New York, they promptly stayed there. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter a jot, it just made them cool.
The wonderful songs just keep coming, whether they were the singles from it like “Just In Lust”, the ones you always thought were awesome but they hardly play, like “V Day” the visceral ones like “Nita Nitro” or the ones that grew on you to become favourites like “Naivety Play”, they are all here, and really, they probably don’t need reviewing because the chances are that you – like me – cherish every second.
There are just couple to mention, though, and it’s the tracks that prove that this band were the greatest songwriters of their generation and that Ginger, the man who has piloted the band through – hell he probably caused most of – their choppy waters is a genius lyricist to match even Phil Lynott, and they are the incredible – and perhaps incredibly underrated too – “Caprice”, with its line that seems to sum up the frontman’s confusion: “no one gets me, I don’t get me, I just need a little time” it says, but also the gorgeous ballad “In Lilly’s Garden” with its 1960s flavoured psychedelics, evidence enough surely, that at this zeitgeist there was nothing they couldn’t do.
This album gives you the chance to relive those songs again, should you need reminding, and is a fine record of an album that is in the top ten of all time. Of course, like all live records it can’t replicate being there, (this commercially available disc doesn’t contain any of the extensive encores either, although these are on the Pledge version) but as an I was there moment it can’t be beaten.
The rest of you, if you want to know about this band, buy everything they did from 1991-96 when truly, they could do no wrong. Then buy this and claim you loved them all along.
Some of us, though, have been adding animal instinct here all of our lives.
We’ll ever see their like again.