Thursday, August 7, 2014

ELLIS, BEGGS & HOWARD-Homelands (1988)


Proof that so much of the 80's is still new to me? My ears getting acquainted for the very first time with the sound of the English pop/rock band ELLIS, BEGGS & HOWARD—so-called because of the surnames of the band's keyboardist, bass guitarist and lead vocalist, Austin Howard. It's amazing how a simple recommendation instantly becomes a treat—such is the way it went this morning when I acquired the band's first and only full-length studio album, "Homelands". Before the listening even started, I was captivated by the interesting cover artwork which, presumably, depicts the aforementioned three band members in the form of crude, rustic-looking Native American dream catchers with a barren wasteland rising up behind them in the distant horizon. Did this exotic imagery enhance my overall listening experience? Perhaps so. The moment "Where Did Tomorrow Go?" entered my audio pathways, I was pulled right in to the music. It's here where I was immediately impressed with Austin Howard's soulful voice as well as the intriguing songwriting—a recurring theme for the nine selections that follow it thereafter. I had nothing but good times with "Bad Times", thanks to the groovy dance beat beneath the rock infusion, although hearing Austin asking 'where did the good times go?' over and over in the lyrics doesget one to stop and think for a minute—embrace all the good moments with the one you love while you can before you start going through many sad moments when that same loved one suddenly departs from your life. Another peak resting high in the "Homelands" is the funky/rock jam "Two Lonely Hearts"; it's just bustling with great energy and terrific vocals all around! And the happy ending is that those two lonely hearts being sung about have gotten back together again. But the real jewel hidden in the "Homelands"? Track #7's "Why Does Living (Become A Crime)?". Excellent question. Despite me having loved it just one pass through—the groovy rhythm and that scintillating guitar instrumental in the closing seconds are awesome!—it's one of those songwriting gems that I had to take in at least a couple of times to fully get the complete gist of what the songwriter is trying to say: a man's struggle to make it through this life only being survived by his woman's undying love. "Big Bubbles, No Troubles": a rather quirky song title, wouldn't you say? But it maintains the simple-lessons-about-life theme of this album, by simply relaying that life ain't nothin' but a bubble, and that can only mean nothing but trouble. A bit of soul-searching and, perhaps, a cry for inner peace, on the album's title track. The atmospheric ambiance and Austin's wailing vocals got to me here long before the music picks up speed with the sudden rock burst towards the end:

1. Where Did Tomorrow Go?
2. Bad Times
3. Two Lonely Hearts
4. Hungry Man
5. Ju Ju Goodbye
6. Say A Prayer
7. Why Does Living (Become A Crime)?
8. Big Bubbles, No Troubles
9. Homelands
10. I Would Die For You

1 comment:

Steve said...

Nick Beggs was the bassist for Kajagoogoo who stepped up and took over lead vocals after Limahl got booted out of the group.