Sleeve Design: Dale Simpson
WHAT'S TOMORROW EVER
DONE FOR YOU?
ALBUM: WHAT'S TOMORROW EVER DONE FOR YOU?
BAND: THE GOLD NEEDLES
YEAR: 11/29/2020 & 2/2021**
Reviewed by NADJA DEE
** The album was released on November 29, 2020. But also scheduled for release on Jem Records on February 2021. (according to their bandcamp page)
KEY to this album
(Hint: The closer to center white, the more Power Pop)
Mostly Power Pop, but in a very retro sounding way, almost like those 1970's K-Tel collections. Varies from twee songs to Power Pop sounds full of powerful guitars and wonderful harmonies.
[Tip: This review looks best on a desktop computer]
THE GOLD NEEDLES
WHAT'S TOMORROW EVER DONE FOR YOU?
Musicians: Simon Dowson (Lead vocals, Guitar)
Dave Burbage (Guitar, Keyboards, Programming)
Mark English (Keyboards, Backing Vocals)
Carl Slaughter (Bass Guitar, Harmony Vocals)
All songs written by Dowson, Burbage and English (Except: #4 Blarke, Nash and Hicks, #7 Harrison, #9 Dudley, Bailey, Mayers and Borland)
Special Thanks to:
William Jones (Drums)
Kurt Reil (Drums)
Larry Fast (I Get The Pressure Remix)
Kurt Reil (Dead Man's Hand Remix)
Marty Scott (Inspiration and Guidance)
Maureen Daye Pietoso (JEM Records)
All Tracks Mastered by Kurt Reil
First, let's address that this has to be one of the longer album titles when it comes to Power Pop album.
Surely, it's not THE LONGEST album title in history as that "honor" goes to Chumbawamba's album The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands..., the full title coming in at 158 words long. (Is it really an honor and stop calling me Shirley). Followed by Soulwax's album Most of the remixes we've made for other people over the years (103 Words) and bringing up third place is Fiona Apple's album When the Pawn, clocking in at a measley 90 words.
But in the Power Pop genre, an album titled What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You? would make most marque artists shudder. (Hereafter to be abbreviated as WTEDFY?)
Secondly, I wasn't going to do any album reviews right now, as I was trying to take a break. But, here I am, using up my "free day" thanks to the big snowstorm, to write a review.
When you start a music site/vlog/blog journalism, there's a certain amount of pressure to review albums, and let's just say I felt a certain amount of pressure to review this album, so here it is.
The first time I had heard The Gold Needles was from their 2019 album Through A Window, a solid Power Pop album with a much shorter title. Before that, they had released Pearls in 2018, an album that fits more within the New Wave and Prog Rock genres, albeit with a heavy influence of Power Pop. The Gold Needles are a good solid band. Would I put their catalog squarely in the Power Pop category? Not exactly, because their music flows between Power Pop, 80's electronic pop (With heavy 80's keyboards) and a bit of those K-Tel albums from the 70's. I could hear a Gold Needles song on one of the many light-hearted, live action, kids programming from that era. K-Tel was really the early predecessor to the NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC releases. But, one thing it certainly is, is RETRO.
Track #1 "What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You?" is a loaded question in the Covid-19 era. The past year has taught us all to not challenge the universe by saying, "is that all you got?" So, I'd be careful about asking it "What's tomorrow ever done for you?" unless the answer is "I gave you a break."
The song lyrics seem to answer it's own question,
What's tomorrow ever done for you
Ever done for me?
Nothing I can see
And with that answer, seems to set the mood that WTEDFY? is going to be a darker album than the last one. WTEDFY? isn't trying to fill us with blind optimism with songs like "I'm Gonna Try," or "Winning A Losing Game," and if "Through A Window," had the darkness that's throughout WTEDFY? it would have been titled "Through A Window...Darkly."
Harriet Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's Through A Glass Darkly
It felt like The Gold Needles were understanding exactly what I was talking about regarding album reviewing, they put it to song with Track #2 "I Get The Pressure," a catchy Power Pop rock song, that'll stay with you long after you hear it. "I Get The Pressure" feels like a lost Cars song.
Sometimes I feel like most Power Pop band fit into The Beatles discography, if you look at their career along their line of album releases. Most of The Gold Needles songs seem to fit in after the early Beatle releases (Up to Beatles VI), but don't go farther than their sound after their Rubber Soul/Revolver era. (Isn't that just Power Pop?)
Track #2: I Get The Pressure
To my ears, it feels like their Beatles influence stopped around the Rubber Soul/Revolver era, where all those early Beatles harmonies, and "Taxman" like guitars was The Gold Needles last lesson. (If you needed further proof of this influence, they cover George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone" from Rubber Soul). I'm not saying it's a bad thing, simply that I don't hear a lot of influence from the Sgt. Pepper era forward, in a Gold Needles album. Which is a contradiction of sorts since there's a definite progressive rock quality to their songs with their heavy use of 80's keyboards.
Track #3 Precious Time, is one of the softer tracks on WTEDFY? and sounds a bit twee, even into the chorus. There's a nice, George Harrison sounding, guitar solo in the song.
Track #4 "Have You Ever Loved Somebody?" is not only the 2nd song to include a ? on the album, it's also the first of three cover songs, this one by Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, and Tony Hicks. It most famously known to be covered by The Hollies, although they're far from the first group to cover the song.
Electric Sound Orchestra (2006) France
And while The Everly Brothers, The Searchers and The Hollies covers are brilliant, I have to admit I prefer the cleaner, updated version by The Gold Needles as the best version of this song.
Some of the recordings by bands in the 60's leave some hi-fidelity handicaps in their recording. However, The Gold Needles sound has a slight muddiness to it. This type of sound works in the same way that added distortion worked for the grunge era, and some of the vocals are buried deep in the mix, a technique that works well on a Bob Mould album. I feel a slightly brighter mix of their songs, especially with their multi-layered harmonies, would work better with their songs, without sacrificing any power.
Track #4: Have You Ever Loved Somebody?
The lead single off the album is Track #6 "Billy Liar"
Billy Liar first started as a book by Keith Waterhouse (1959) and has been made into everything from a play and a musical, to a film and a television series. Using the subject of an old UK television series from the 50's/60's is a perfect fit for The Gold Needles, a band from Hull, England. Their song "Billy Liar" reminded me of something that Mike McGear would have written with his comedy musical group, The Scaffold. It's also something that John Lennon would've loved as he was raised on The Goon Show. There's also an element to their song "Billy Liar" that reminded me of The Jam's song "David Watts".
Track #6: Billy Liar
All of the cover songs are well done, true to the original, almost too true to the original if you ask me. I want to do a Podcast on Cover Songs because I have an opinion about what makes a good cover song. In a nutshell, if a band covers a song so closely that it's almost hard to distinguish the cover from the original, I ask, "Why should I listen to your version?" If it's just a copy of the guys who did it first, shouldn't I just listen to the original?
I realize there's a lot of reasons why an exact copy of the original song may be beneficial:
You lost the rights to the original recording (Example: Squeeze "Spot The Difference")
You are turning on a whole new generation to an old classic (Example: Toto/Weezer)
You never got a chance to demonstrate your version of the song (Example: Ringo's Love Me Do)
But, I feel, that a band covering a song should try to make it their own. Bring something new to the song that we wouldn't get with the original version. Update it and make it familiar, yet different enough that you've given us something new. A perfect example of this is Siouxsie and The Banshee's cover of Dear Prudence. It's true to the original but Siouxsie really brings her own style and vocals to the song and makes it one of the best covers of a Beatle's song in my opinion.
Siouxsie and the Banshee's cover of Dear Prudence
And while the covers of "If I Needed Someone" (The Beatles) and "Counting The Days" (The Sound) are well executed, I'll stick to the originals. But I will reach for The Gold Needles' version of "Have You Ever Loved Somebody?" because it's a much cleaner sounding recording.
Track #8 "Susie Is Sorted (She Doesn't Care)" is my favorite song on the album and, I think, would've made a much better lead single. It's catchy, full of Power Pop and very likeable in a repeat play kind of way.
If you don't know what the British slang of saying someone is "sorted" means, here's the official definition:
organized, arranged, or dealt with satisfactorily:
(of a person) confident, organized, and emotionally well balanced
If you apply it to a person it should be a positive attribute, but the parentesis tell another story, namely that she doesn't care. So, further investigation of the term "sorted" brought up a newer definition of the term to mean:
Having enough chemicals to stay awake longer then you should over the weekend
Based on the urban dictionary meaning, paints Susie as a party girl who uses drugs to party.
Track #8: Susie Is Sorted (She Doesn't Care)
Just like there's only 12 notes in an octave, there's only so many song titles before you start repeating them. Track #10 "The Story Of My Life" first made me think of Social Distortion's song by the same name (Minus the "The") and there's also a One Direction song that uses the same title. But, just like you can't copywrite a film title, you can write a song and name it Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band if you wanted to. It's not a good idea but it's not illegal.
The One Direction song is a Mumford & Sons sounding song about a guy trying to hang onto a broken relationship with a girl. The Social Distortion song is melodic punk song about a guy who missed an opportunity with a high school girl while time flies by too fast. While "The Story of My Life" by The Gold Needles seems to be about all those things and more:
road to love
You could almost tell the story of this guys relationship if you started with Social Distortion's relationship at the beginning, then went into One Direction's song and ended with The Gold Needles.
Well, high school seemed like such a blur
And in class I dreamed all day
About a rock 'n' roll weekend
And the girl in the front of the room
So close yet so far, you know she never seemed to notice
That this silly school-boy crush wasn't just pretend
You only want to do what you think is right
Close your eyes and then it's past
Story of my life
She told me in the morning
She don't feel the same about us in her bones
It seems to me that when I die
These words will be written on my stone
The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm and time
Is frozen the story of my life, I give her hope
I spend her love until she's broke inside
The story of my life
Let me tell you ‘bout the pain
That starts to burst into your soul
Let me tell you ‘bout splittin’ up
When you thought that you were home
Let me tell you ‘bout all the anguish
So many tears I cried
The nights are cold and the days are long
A love extinguished and now it’s died
This is the story of my life
The Gold Needles
Track #11 "Realm Of The Black Dog" takes you right into ambient synth-pop music, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream camp of trippy music, hence the reason The Gold Needles always get the "prog rock" label thrown at them. Part of this song reminded me of something Rush would do, although with a title like "Realm Of The Black Dog," it's Rush by way of Led Zeppelin.
Track #11 Realm Of The Black Dog
Track #10: The Story Of My Life
This darker album closes with a song of hope, "Drown This Sorrow". I related to this song a lot. As I already mentioned, it's been a rough road lately for all of us. If you work on the front lines, with the general public, you know that you've run into everyone from those who care enough about others to properly wear their mask, to those who "don't believe in it," or care about your health. It's not be easy for any of us. Turn on the news and you can see that the world, POC, the climate change and anyone who gives a damn has been through the ringer. I didn't want to review right now, but the album lifted my spirits and that's saying something. It's like doing homework, we don't want to do it, but there's a payoff in the end.
It's easier to fall into the abyss than it is to climb out of it. I get the dark tone of this album which started out asking:
What has tomorrow ever done for you?
And answered it by saying:
I'm gonna drown this sorrow, make it go away, tomorrow is another day...
Sunrise gif by Kasho
Track #12 Drown This Sorrow
What's Tomorrow Ever Done For You? is another solid album from The Gold Needles. They're extremely consistent in delivering good, well written, catchy retro rock music with a heavy dose of Power Pop. It's familiar and will fit in nicely with most of the albums from that era. I would recommend it for your collection almost as much as I'd recommend taking a break too. I heard there's still a global pandemic going on.
AS ALWAYS, PLEASE SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!
BUY IT HERE!
Also Help The Gold Needles support Mental Health Charities by purchasing their single SERVICE WITH A SMILE (Pay what you can).
All proceed from Service With A Smile will be donated to MIND (A mental health charity)
DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
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