Gun – The Carlton Songs – Album Review

Gun – The Carlton Songs – Album Review

29th September 2022 0 By George Simpson

Plenty of bands have at some point in their careers decided to revisit their back catalogue. This tends to involve new arrangements of tracks that they are best known for. The results of doing this are mixed to say the least, with the usual result being a pining for the original tracks. However, Scottish rockers Gun manage to buck that trend here, and in some places surpass expectations. 

Lead by mainstay brothers Dante and Joolz Gizzi revisit thirteen of what is, let’s face it, their greatest hits. They also include a new track to whet the appetite for new material that must surely come in 2023. By then it will have been a full 6 years since 2017’s excellent Favourite Pleasures.¬†

The album opens with that solitary ‘new’ track, Backstreet Brothers. It demonstrates that even a whopping 33 years since bursting on the scene with the Taking On The World album, that they can still write classy, hooky melodic rock music. It immediately gets to ear worm work in your brain. A great start to the album.

From there on, we get largely semi- acoustic reworkings of songs that every Gun fan must know inside out by now (see what I did there?). As I mentioned at the start, the results are mostly very positive with the only negatives being down to my personal tastes rather than any serious musical missteps on their part.

None of the tracks here get radical reworkings, and as a result, stripping them back allows them to bring more out of the original arrangements than perhaps possible when played in full electric mode. Take tracks like Better Days and Money for example. We all know the classic full band versions, but here taking a stripped back acoustic approach gives both a lovely bluesy feel without the songs changing a great deal. 

Not only do the acoustics allow them to sing da blues as they say, they’re also used to give a couple of them a new burst of energy. In particular Inside Out positively comes tearing out of the traps with a renewed spring in it’s step in it’s new guise. I always loved the original, but this surpasses it to my ears. It’s the best track on offer here in my opinion. Similarly, Shame On You, was a song that comes alive here. It never really did it for me previously, but now it has a real purpose about it.¬†

There’s more going on here than just acoustic reworkings. Several songs add horns and backing vocalists to give tracks added dimensions where previously there was no space to do so. When Cameo released Word Up back in 1986, I bet they never envisioned a rock band delivering a semi acoustic take on it, with brass instruments handling the melody. Thats’s exactly what is served up here, and makes for a genuinely surprising take on a song, you’ve heard a million times.

However, there are a couple of tracks that leave me a little cold here. 1992’s Higher Ground was, to my ears, one of the weaker moments on that years’ Gallus album, and even the addition of backing vocalists giving it a gospel feel doesn’t lift it much in my opinion. In much the same way, the title track of 2015’s Frantic also doesn’t lift itself any higher in my estimation. Following the same arrangement, it comes across as merely a strummed version of the same track.¬†

Those minor quibbles aside, the rest of the album is a decent listen. Coming Home uses backing singers and piano and much like Inside Out, becomes a much better track for it. In like manner, Steal Your Fire and Watching The World Go By both also receive really rather good semi acoustic treatments. The use of electric elements over an acoustic arrangement are master strokes and give the listener a pleasant surprise. There is a tendency to almost know how the track is going to sound when you are already familiar with it. These two prove you wrong. 

Overall, this is a very good album. A cynic could view it as a treading water exercise rather than go all out with all new material. But that would be doing it a disservice. They’ve created a very credible album in it’s own right, and a very enjoyable one at that. And if they follow through on the promise of Backstreet Brothers on that next album, it’ll have been well worth the six year wait.¬†

Score: 8/10 

Tracklisting:

1 РBackstreet Brothers 

2 РBetter Days 

3 РComing Home 

4 – Steal Your Fire

5 РWord Up 

6 – Frantic

7 – Taking On The World

8 – Crazy You

9 – Money

10 – Shame On You

11 – Don’t Say It’s Over

12 – Inside Out

13 РHigher Ground 

14 – Watch The World Go By

Release Date: 14th October 2022

Label: Cherry Red 

For all things GUN, click HERE and to purchase the album, click HERE

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