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Songs from the repertWAH!,
This review is from: The Handy Wah! Whole : Songs From The Repertwah! : The Maverick Years 2000 (Audio CD)
Pete Wylie, along with the other members of Liverpool's 'Crucial Three', Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope, produced some of the best music of the '80s. The Handy Wah Whole (a pun on the American pop artist, geddit?) contains all the Wylie you need, including his two indisputably 'great' recordings, 'Come Back' and 'Story Of The Blues'.
'Story Of The Blues' is a rousing, Spectoresque cry of defiance. Released in 1982, just as the country, and in particular Liverpool, was starting to feel the pinch from the Thatcher government, it stands as a moving monument to the spirit and resistance of the times. The only shame here is that 'Talkin' Blues Pt 2', which it segued into on the original 12' single, has been separated off and put on Disc 2 of this compilation. The line 'The Blues is about dignity and self-respect, and no matter what they take away from you, that's yours for keeps' never fails to move me.
'Come Back' is even better - a passionate, polemical piece possessed of an irresistible throb and joie de vivre. The song was one of John Peel's all-time favourites. It was conceived as a plea to the thousands of people who left Liverpool during the '80s recession - 'Come back, to God-given leisure', urges Wylie.
Other highlights on this album include the urgent and dramatic '7 Minutes To Midnight', the gorgeous Walker Brothers' stylings of 'Hope' and the poppy dance track 'Sinful'. Sadly, much of Disc 2 is forgettable, the songs mired in horrible 'soft rock' guitars and over-production. 'Heart As Big As Liverpool' is liable to divide listeners - native Scousers may find its message uplifting, this 'woollyback' find its sentimentality jarring. No matter - for 'Story Of The Blues' and 'Come Back' alone, Wylie deserves his place in pop history.