Oldfield Youth Club - The Hanworth Are Coming

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After releasing his seventh - arguably best and most popular album - The Odd Shower, The Bitter Springs' singer / songwriter Simon Rivers reinvented himself as Poor Performer, whose own debut, Like Yer Wounds Too, followed the same winning formula, widened somewhat by the inclusion of songs with a greater fragile beauty and introspection . . . though rarely without a degree of self-effacing humour and a rather stylish wit. Decades of self-releasing compact disc-only albums from the far southwestern suburbs of London, with scant regard for promotion or the normal machinations of showbiz - touring, for instance - did little to spread the word about Rivers' unique and prestigious talents. A conversational singer with a delightfully warm and convivial stone, Rivers' sense of the absurd and willingness to portray aspects of life generally unrecognised by pop music, one supposes it's not entirely unfair to have expect Top of The Pops to come calling. Yet the relative absence of cult of Simon Rivers fans is somewhat perplexing, for his lyrics, ideas and tunes all do merit it. There's little affectation in the sense of stage persona, but heaps of personality and intriguing, occasional perverse idea. It's hard to listen to anything he's down without a degree of sheer enjoyment. It's real, without affectation. The very real bumps heads with the slightly mental, just like in life! So what does this new guise - Oldfield Youth Club - have to offer? It's partially a revival of Rivers' first 'real' band, Last Party, and it displays hallmarks of that band's youthful energy. There's a bit of teen glam in Good News I'm Afraid and (Theme From Oldfield Youth Club, even while lead track We're The OYC and When Bob Grant Ruled The World add a dollop of an energetic ruefulness to the mix. A Kind Of Loving In A Loveless Town is an immediate classic, a song one could hear dozens of times before really reaching the core of its magic and majesty. Lest this sound like the work of a solo artist, it does feel like a band - a rather clever one, in fact. Including members Kim Rivers and Neil Palmer (both from Last Party), as well as trumpeter / vocalist Alison Targett, Oldfield Youth Club is a band with an obvious musical kinship. There's a connection to the literal style of Vic Godard's Subway Sect (and members have been shared between both acts) or early Go-Betweens . . . there's an alchemical sensibility shared by all three acts wherein their words and tunes inform each other in a deceptively casual but arresting manner. It's hard not to love, a rare work that earns immediate affection and just grows better from there.