Overend Watts: He's Real Gone
Sadly, He's Real Gone will be the first and last solo album from Mott The Hoople man Overend Watts, the band's legendary bassist and founder member passing away at the beginning of the year. Changing his album's name from She's Real Gone when he realised that he would no longer be with us when it finally arrived after a decade long wait, illustrates perfectly the humour of the man and the album he created. Aside from a few contributions of backing vocals, guitar and programming from Watts' friend Phil Hendricks, everything is performed by the main man; dulcimer to banjo and synth-guitar to vocals given a serious workout.
At first glance it's a curious collection and anyone looking for the 70s rock of the post Hoople band Mott (where Watts wrote a vast chunk of the material) will initially be caught off guard, a strangely progressive pop slap coming to the fore in the attack of the near title track, "She's Real Gone" and "The Dinosaw Market". The nearest comparison it's possible to scrabble about and find being XTC jamming with The Cardiacs via The Dowling Poole. Odd indeed, but let it simmer, settle and then return, and you'll be struck by how catchy it all becomes.
"Caribbean Hate Song" emphasises the dreamy prog side further, adding some off kilter spoken vocals. This album's willingness to head down less expected paths always at the forefront of its thinking. From there "He's A Diamond" turn ups the jangle factor for some 60s meets 70s pop, via an 80s sheen, while "Miss Kensington" and the thoroughly bonkers "Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel" illustrate a more psychedelic edge and benefit hugely from it. Add in the melancholy honesty of "The Magic Garden" and the contrarily upbeat "Endless Night" and if there's one thing you're assured of on He's Real Gone, it's that nothing is assured whatsoever. Fittingly the album closes out with an original demo of "Born In '58" featuring Dale Griffin and Morgan Fisher, which still hits as hard now as it did on the Mott's The Hoople album back in 1974. Strangely, if unsurprisingly, it also fits the devil may care attitude of this album perfectly.
Reading comments from those who knew Overend Watts that He's Real Gone absolutely captures the spirit of the man who created it means that this solo album succeeds in a way that many, if not most, certainly don't. For those not quite so acquainted with him the journey to discovery is a tougher one, an initially impenetrable set of songs only slowly revealing their charms. Still for an artist famed for his humour and uncompromising nature, should we have expected any else?
1. She's Real Gone
2. The Dinosaw Market
3. Caribbean Hate Song
4. He'd Be A Diamond
5. The Legend Of Redmire Pool
6. Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel
7. Belle Of The Boot
8. There's Berkeley Power Station
9. The Magic Garden
10. Endless Night
11. Rise Up
12. The Search
13. Miss Kingston
14. Born Late 58 (original demo)
Added: November 19th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: He's Real Gone at Angel Air
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|Overend Watts: He's Real Gone
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-11-19 22:16:49
It has been an especially sad couple of years for music fans as we have lost a number of legendary musicians. Overend Watts was one such musician passing away on January 27th of this year. The founding member and bassist of Mott The Hoople, which released their first album in 1969, had been around the business for an awfully long time. After the demise of Mott Watts went on to form the rock band British Lions who released two albums. Watts was also part of a series of Mott The Hoople reunion concerts in 2009 and 2013. Watts had been promising his fans the last few years with a solo album and, well, here it is. The original title was supposed to be She's Real Gone but since the album would be released posthumously Watts changed the title to He's Real Gone, ensuring his fans the man's sense of humour was never in doubt.
I have listened to the album a couple of times now and it has hit me almost immediately. He's Real Gone is a finely written and crafted album filled to the brim with Watt's wry British humour, eclectic quirkiness, excellent musicianship and great melodies.
The disc begins with the title track where keyboard led rhythms, punchy synths and a super catchy chorus will surely stimulate your brain cells. It's an upbeat tune with Watt's quintessential Englishness and sense of humour coming through in spades. The next track "The Dinosaw Market" starts with a jazzy exploration before turning in a pop rock direction featuring spry piano flourishes and some excellent guitar, both acoustic and electric. Again, the catchiness is contagious. With "Caribbean Hate Song" the pace is slower and the lyrics more poignant. Some psychedelic infused guitar offers up another highlight. Perhaps the album's biggest hook is the guitar based "He'd Be A Diamond" while "Belle Of The Boot" is a fiery rocker with Watt's snarling lead guitar work and a great vocal arrangement with the backing vocals invoking ear worms a plenty. "Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel" is probably the most eclectic of the bunch and with a title like that it shouldn't be a surprise. This one is hard to describe but rest assured the playing is exemplary. You'll just have to give this one a listen for yourself. The album proper ends with "Miss Kingston" containing a gorgeous melody and quaint vocals. The bonus track "Born Late 58" dates back to Mott The Hoople's last album in 1974. This is a demo version that flat out rocks.
He's Real Gone is a gem of a pop/rock album that Watts must have been extremely proud of. He might be gone but his music will surely live on.
Released on Angel Air Records.
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