'4&4 Still Makes 8' from Adiós Señor Pussycat by Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band
Pete Wylie wasn’t the only member of the ‘80s Liverpool explosion to make a ‘comeback’ album this year (and if yer interested and/or too young to have the relevant records already, Cherry Red are curating an extensive selection of sounds from the ‘second wave’ of Merseyside music on the ‘Revolutionary Spirit’ box set, due Feb 2018). Former Pale Fountains and Shack main man Michael Head resurfaced again with his new Red Elastic Band and naturally the results were worth the wait. Adiós Señor Pussycat was filled with splendid moments, not least the fabulous ‘Queen of All Saints’, ‘What’s the Difference’ and ‘4&4 Still Makes 8’, this last number in particular showing Head at his Loveable best and really it’s the cut on Adiós where that old Arthur Lee obsession rings most clearly and true. I mean, that’s hardly surprising in a song where the title so obviously nods to '7 and 7 is’ but there you go. Nods, winks and sideways glances are always essential ingredients when making great Pop after all. So ‘4&4’ splendidly pirouettes at the half way point and squirrels off on tangential swoops of just off-kilter guitar glissandos, balanced just so. (Note - might not actually be glissandos: My level of technical musical intelligence remains stubbornly, not to mention gleefully, low). Now Head has increasingly made a point of embracing his Merseyside accent in vocal deliveries (it’s rarely, barely detectable in Pale Fountains and early Shack outings) and it’s deliciously in effect here as he shhhlurs his way through lyrics like Adrian Henri backed by Bryan MacLean. But in places too Head also recalls Francis Reader and you know, in brief moments ‘4&4’ reminds me of Trashcan Sinatras’ beautiful, beguiling ‘Earlies’ and that is no bad reference point to pick up on either.
There is a beautiful photograph of a painfully young Head in those early Pale Fountains days that Kevin Pearce shared with me some eleven years or more ago. Kevin also shared some typically poignant words, pointing out that Michael Head is "one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation”. '4&4 Still Makes 8’ and indeed the whole of Adiós Señor Pussycat reminds us this is still very much the case.