The Gliders: press, reviews, radio
The Gliders play earthy, acoustic pop rhythm and blues - the sort that makes you want to stomp your feet and slide your hips. Theirs is all original material, written by Sean Lyons (12-string guitar) and Andy Taylor (lead vocals and harmonica), who started to write together after discovering a mutual love of Leadbelly and swamp music. Third member Morris Windsor plays hard-hitting drums and percussion, standing up 'live', with minimal kit almost to rival that of Tom McCrum of Tandy. Less can be more and Windsor is right there giving a distinctive beat - and singing backing vocals. It's a disconcertingly big sound from a no-nonsense small band which translates perfectly to the stage.
B.J. Cole helps out on pedal steel on a couple of album tracks but their definitive sound is provided by Lyons' acoustic swampy riffs and Taylor's blues harmonica. Live, Taylor's vocals are a fiery, shout-out growling howl. On the album, they are more subtly bluesy and he uses a trick to distort his voice through the harmonica mike on a couple of tracks. And then there are ballads where he taps a more melodious and bittersweet vein. Overall the album's a gem - to play again and again. In these days of desperately average music 'Clear Blue Skies' sparkles with real talent and integrity.
These guys have quite a pedigree. Taylor was lead vocalist with the Jazz Devils; Lyons has played with George Clinton, Robyn Hitchcock and Brian Kennedy; Windsor is a founder member of The Soft Boys and the Egyptians. The album's opening track, Snakes and Ladders, has been used in 'Lock Stock and 4 Stolen Hooves' and will be released on the film's compilation album.
Swamp-rock debut from unlikely trio of UK cult stalwarts.
This is what folks mean when they talk about new medicine from old bottles. Exactly why the combination of Jazz Devils singer Andy Taylor with former Robyn Hitchcock collaborators Sean Lyons (guitar) and Morris Windsor (drums) should come up with the rockingest swampy gumbo in many a long moon is hard to determine, but it certainly spits welcome sparks of life into a UK indie scene increasingly dominated by worthy singer-songwriter types. Taylor, says the press release, spent two years sneaking through Deep South backwaters, hanging out with local bar bands and, presto!, he's back with a new style and swagger to match. The sounds are built round Taylor's howling harmonica, Lyons' rattly, cranky guitar, with Windsor's impeccable sticks holding it all together, while the songs are rooted in R&B/Cajun traditions with dark splashes of surreal voodoo jiggery-pokery in the lyrics. Deliciously stimulating.
The swampiest rockers ever to come out of south-east England. The Gliders dip and dive between hardcore, scuzzbusting blues and big-chested rock anthems carried aloft by ringing melodies and arcing vocals. Guitarist Sean Lyons and percussionist Morris Windsor have brought with them some of the strangeness of their former band, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians. With notable contributions from pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole, the songs build up an irresistible momentum which culminates in the hyperactive new-age skiffle of would-be hit single Storm Warning and the melodious ballad Temptation.
Isn't it nice when you get a pleasant surprise? And this is more than a pleasant surprise, it's the US Cavalry. Just as we were all despairing as to who was going to come and rescue Brit-Blues from its post-Hoax doldrums, along come the Gliders, from the most unlikely of all possible provenances.
Poor Gliders, I bet when they sent their CD to Blueprint, they didn't imagine that it was going to be reviewed by a raving Soft Boys fan. For this, gentle reader, is where two of the three members, Sean Lyons and Morris Windsor, come from. I know because I possess a T-Shirt with both their names on it. And when the first track lurched straight into the groove and riff from "Kingdom of Love", I seriously thought I must be hallucinating. The concept is the Soft Boys playing swamp blues and it's so daft as to be inconceivable.
And yet it isn't. This is a brilliant record, full of flair, imagination and geniuine inventiveness, yet earthy enough to communicate at an emotional level as well. It's hard to believe that this is a British band, but singer, harp player and writer Andy Taylor spent two years travelling through the deep US South, sitting in with bar bands and amassing a collection of rare blues and Cajun recordings. A process of osmosis has taken place and it shows.
To the extent that every track takes a different approach and there is seemingly no end to the boldness of their range ("Happy Man" is pure Robyn Hitchcock plus megaphone effects, while you can also hear Radiohead in "Move On"), this album is as strong as last year's "Extremely Cool" by Chuck E. Weiss. And that's strong.
"Will they have a pension scheme based on a merchandising cheque?" asks the press blurb. Maybe it's not such a stupid question as it seems. Track 8, "Wasp In Autumn" has the laziest, grooviest groove imaginable. "You're confused and you fail to keep appointments", sings Taylor. A Can Of Bees, anyone?
It's not often these days I go to a gig and leave feeling I've seen something new and refreshingly different. But I've just caught The Gliders playing at the Greys. I, like the rest of the audience, didn't quite know what to expect. There's vocalist Andy Taylor who plays harmonica to die for - so they're blues, right? Then there's Sean Lyons on 12-string acoustic - so they're folky blues, right? But on the other side of the stage there's Morris Windsor standing behind the smallest drum kit in the world laying down trance beats.
The sound is big and full and it grooves. But this is a brooding foreboding groove. The guitar weaves in and out of the rhythms giving the perfect platform for Taylor's gritty vocals. You keep telling yourself this is a three piece. But where's the bass player? You're not sure why it sounds like it does. But you know it's good and you can feel it working.
And what great songs. But these are tales from the dark side. When all the good people are safely in their homes these three are out soaking up the low life in the shadows of the city.
They mix it up. Andy Taylor's voice aches with loneliness or growls with menace at a turn. Bittersweet ballads and barrelhouse stomps are played out with an intensity designed to melt the heart. Even Nick Cave and Tom Waits would shed a tear.
The Gliders take us on a tour through the shadows and just as my senses were adjusting to this dark world, they're gone. Applause. And if I want more I'm going to have to catch another gig.
These guys are hit-and-run experts and I can't wait to be mugged again.