It’s six days away from the release date of Hearts & Arrows from Danny & The Champions Of The World; curiously almost exactly six months since the songs and the new Champs were unveiled at The Betsey’s Winterlude. So songs that have seemed for a while the personal property of a small coterie are launched out into the world. A time of palpable excitement and anticipation.
The CD, now we have it, is quite as fine an artefact as is possible from such a medium. A glossy, mini-gatefold sleeve; a facsimile of what’s to come a little later with the vinyl. Tom Sheehan photos, of Dan in the upstairs room at The Betsey, and the Champs, in ‘last gang in town’ demeanour between narrow, dark brick, alley walls. It seems to carry visual and design echoes of Bowie’s Young Americans; not inappropriate given that one of the elements of the record is the positing of an eternally present mid-70s.
There’s also direct connection with that time in co-producer Tony Poole, back then the guitarist of Starry Eyed And Laughing, and still the finest English exponent of the 12-string Rickenbacker. Poole’s guitar is all over this record; even though Paul Lush, now an integral part of the band, is pictured, the recording pre-dated his involvement – the same is true for ‘Free Jazz’ Geoff Widdowson, now handling keyboards and sax.
For the full BoB take on Hearts & Arrows you’ll have to wait for the printed #78 due at the end of this month. But it’s probably fair to say that we like it. From the rhythmic juggernaut, sweeping all before it,that’s ‘Ghosts In The Wire’, and the sustained, rushing momentum of ‘Heart & Arrow’ on, it’s a wild trip through a warm, if slightly garish, dream rock’n’roll London, where one should never, ever, “let the truth get in the way of the story”.
And at the beating centre sits the extraordinary ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’; a song that defies the belief that we could have got 56 years into the rock’n’roll era without it being written, when it sounds now like its always been there. A song too, that’s about to change drastically. For the last six months it’s been a ‘History Lesson’; now it’s being launched to a world where ‘the fox’ will be no more ‘real’ than ‘the magic rat’ was, and where borderline won’t start with a capital letter. I remember being in Chicago in the summer of 1976 and hearing ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ coming out of every radio; it doesn’t take that much of a leap of faith to imagine it happening with ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ in Shanghai and Buenos Aires.
Hearts & Arrows released on 18th July on SO Recordings
Danny & The Champions Of The World play Bush Hall on 22nd September