Beau (rerLP003) – “… there isn’t a weak song”

Posted on January 1, 2012

Beau must have storing up his best tracks over the years as there isn’t a weak song

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the release of “Creation”, folk star Beau aka Trevor Midgley’s last studio album for John Peel’s Dandelion label, Cherry Red has released “The Way It Was”, a newly-recorded set of fifteen tracks.

To say he has rolled back the years would be an understatement.  Like his classic single “1917 Revolution” and accompanying 1969 self-titled album, Beau’s songs are stripped back to just vocals and Harmony twelve-string guitar.

There’s something about going back to basics and to their original muse that’s worked sensationally for artists such as Donovan (1996’s Sutras) and Johnny Cash.  In a similar way Beau does this with “The Way It Was”.

Kicking off with its career defining title track, Beau’s voice and strident twelve-string immediately grabs your attention and builds up to a passionate crescendo, rekindling the sound that must have attracted Peel all those years ago.

Beau must have storing up his best tracks over the years as there isn’t a weak song.  Instead it’s a case of choosing the highlights.

Today Began A Thousand Years Ago” is one such song, mixing history and politics with a timeless simplicity.  Beau revisits Russia with “Where Is Your Gun, My Son?” a tale from Stalin’s Soviet Union where a peasant’s son denounces his parents to the authorities, only for this fate to fall on him.

Subject matters are wide ranging which can be startling but at the same time refreshing.  An example being “Kiss Me With Your Eyes”, a remarkable love song from the score of “Warhol: The Musical” (co-written with Tractor’s Steve Clayton), that captures the moment when Andy is dying.

Songs echo the past but retain a freshness.  You can see “Songs You Sing” fitting right next to “Imagination” on his debut LP.

His new album finishes just as strong as it starts with “Liberty” echoing some of the sentiments of Phil Ochs’s “Power and the Glory”, of whom Beau has been compared.

The Way It Was” deserves to stand proudly alongside his Dandelion albums.  If only some of our other favourite Sixties artists could do the same.

Review – The Strange Brew Podcast (webzine)