Big Smash by Wreckless Eric (Eric Goulden)

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Big Smash by Wreckless Eric (Eric Goulden)
Big Smash by Wreckless Eric (Eric Goulden)

Album Released: 1980

Big Smash ::: Artwork

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1.A Popsong3:18
2.Tonight (Is My Night)2:42
3.Too Busy3:30
4.Broken Doll4:00
5.Can I Be Your Hero?2:26
6.Back In My Hometown2:27
7.It'll Soon Be The Weekend3:26
8.Strange Towns3:30
9.Excuse Me3:10
10.Break My Mind3:16
11.Good Conversation2:32
12.Out Of The Blue3:01
13.A Popsong (Reprise)1:10
14.(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World3:20
15.Take The Cash (K.A.S.H.)3:25
16.Let's Go To The Pictures3:13
17.Walking On The Surface Of The Moon3:49
18.Hit And Miss Judy5:03
19.I Wish It Would Rain3:14
20.Reconnez Cherie3:03
22.Brain Thieves3:58
23.Semaphore Signals3:00
24.I Need A Situation3:12
25.The Final Taxi4:30
26.There Isn't Anything Else2:43


Stiff Records used to have an advertising slogan that said 'If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a F***'. There was actually a point to such hyperbole - Stiff were one of the first and most important independent labels, and if they had been able to hold on to such key artists as Elvis Costello, The Damned, and Nick Lowe, then found other artists of the same caliber, they might have survived the 1970's as one of the most important labels in the UK.

Wreckless Eric was cut from the same pub-rock cloth as Costello and Lowe, but didn't possess Costello's talent or Lowe's craft - the latter in particular he lacks sorely, but that's part of his ragged charm. Even though his scratchy mewl recalls nothing so much as a scrawny alley cat seranading rotten fish in a trashcan, his scruffy garage-pop benefits greatly from his generous wit and quirky persona.

This release is a double album, the first containing a new 1980 LP that tries to sandpaper over Eric's rough edges, and unfortunately succeeds - the songs are sturdy, but sound far too conventional. At least Eric has the foresight to make fun of his own record with the opening "Pop Song".

The second disc is a compilation of his first two albums plus assorted singles, and it's good fun, with a clutch of crackin' tunage. The best number is "(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World", a lookin'-for-love anthem that ranks as one of the greatest songs written in the latter half of the 70's. There are several other numbers that come close, and nearly all bring some sort of grin to my face ... "Take the Cash (K.A.S.H.)" is another witty classic; "Semaphore Signals" demonstrates Eric's quirkiness with its novel boy/girl relationship; and "Final Taxi" shows that it's not all fun and games, that Eric can write a moving ballad.

Hardly essential, but Big Smash is a fun record that's hard to dislike.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

This record is a monumental achievement in the history of human aspiration - it's The Pyramids of rock and roll.

For just as the Egyptians managed to erect their gigantic edifices without the aid of anything but the simplest of machines, so Wreckless Eric - who lacks any of the fundamentals of a successful career in music: a good voice, instrumental ability, charisma, good looks, or melodic felicity - has nonetheless created one of the great records of our time. The disparity between the talent and the end product is so staggering it baffles.

What Eric does have in spades is energy, insight, and a recognition of his own limitations - and these three attributes drive some brilliant songwriting. You can't deny these hooks: hell's bells, buckets of blood / you can't wind wind wind wind wind her up / back in my ... ho-ometown - fantastic tunes, all of 'em.

And the delivery is tops too. Eric doesn't have much (any) range in his voice, and he doesn't hit all (many) of the notes, but he gives each reading here just the right combination of attack, humor, and dynamic control to express the shades of emotion within the song.

And these songs are full of genuine human feeling. Where any other person with this type of voice would go for a novelty effect (and Wreckless Eric was branded with a 'drunken boor' image by his record label), Eric explores all aspects of life, from a hopeless public transportation crush, to the sister-in-law who talks too much.

There's never a false moment in these vignettes. "Broken Doll" is tender and mournful; "Tonight" is cruel and sleazy - both are written with such an eye for the little things that they seem quite authentic. Even the obligatory anti-record company rant is tolerable, as a sense of the absurdity of it all underpins the enterprise (has anyone ever put more drama into a phrase like get some AM/FM action in the United States?).

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)