TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 April 2015
If Loudon's ever in your town, don't even think about it, just get hold of tickets and get on down there and you'll have the time of your life, since he's one of the most entertaining solo singers (he's generally solo in the UK) you'll ever see. I've seen him amble on stage, grin at the audience and shamelessly say: 'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash' - after which, once the laughter had died down, he had us in the palm of his hand.
More Love Songs was his tenth studio LP, made in 1986 when he was a wizened 39, and is as good as anything he's ever done, despite one or two more throwaway tracks, such as Vampire Blues and I Eat Out, on the latter of which the typically inventive lyrics come over best when performed live, rather than the rather rushed version here.
With a luxury backing band including Richard Thompson (who also produced), old pal Chaim Tannenbaum, bass wizard Danny Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, along with backing vocals by Maria Muldaur, Christine Collister and others, the accompaniments are more varied than on some of Loud's albums - though I confess I've always been more than happy to hear him eloquently alone with guitar.
Highlights of this recording made in his temporary home of London (following the painful split from his first wife, the now sadly late Kate McGarrigle) tend to be the slower, more 'serious' songs, such as the sadly tender Your Mother and I, an explanatory lyric to his then young children Rufus & Martha:
Your mother and I are not getting along
Somehow, somewhere, something went wrong
Everything changes, time takes its toll
Your folks fell in love, love's a very deep hole
Time and again, throughout his career, this brilliant, too often undervalued and taken-for-granted songwriter finds ways to express the simplest emotions in the most articulately witty language. He can have you laughing and crying in the same song, often in the same verse or even line.
The Home Stretch is a meditative, downbeat song about life on the road, while Unhappy Anniversary is a short, pithy song that speaks for itself:
Unhappy anniversary, it's one year since we split
I walk and talk and get around, lie down, stand up and sit
The man's hurting, but he can make you smile wryly even as he breaks his and your heart.
Overseas Call is one of Loudon's most beautiful songs, with a memorable musical hook to match: 'Gonna make me an overseas call...'
With its golfing metaphor (Loudon - golf!) The Back Nine closes this bittersweet album in sombre style:
Got to move on down to that next fairway
Up to that flapping flag
Got to shoulder up that bag...
There are more flippant songs too - the hilarious Synchronicity and bloodthirstily tasteless Vampire Blues, along with an angry Man's World and the upbeat negativity of the briskly titled No.
Then there's the lyrically deft Expatriot, with its idealistic imagery and typical
Livin' in a garret in Paris, a houseboat in Amsterdam
Smokin' a beard, growin' a pipe, and doin' the best I can
I haven't mentioned the excellent opening number, the wild and wanton Hard Day On the Planet, which is about exactly what it sounds like it's about.
The two extra tracks on this welcome reissue from 2003 are The Acid Song (which I've never liked much, and can also be found on his wonderful live album Career Moves) and a lovely duet with another favourite singer-singwriter of mine, John Hiatt, on an older song entitled At the End of a Long Lonely Day. Two kindred spirits whose voices meld perfectly.
With an exemplary booklet that includes pics and full song lyrics, as well as extensive and intelligent liner notes by one Joey Webb, this is a great buy for both the Wainwright fan and newcomer alike.
I'm in the old world now - you're in the new
Gonna pick up the phone, try to get through
Seven hours and an ocean between me and you
Gonna make me an overseas call