Duncan Reid and The Big Heads drop album number 4. Don’t Blame Yourself is out and its a cracker. We go through the album track by track. A class release. This album is fun, catchy, exciting, and infectious. Maybe infectious isn’t the word to use in present circumstances but you get what I mean.
There are only two people in the entire world who can claim to have played with the Ramones while not actually being tagged with the ‘Ramone’ nom-de-plume. Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid is one of those people. As singer and bass player of Joey Ramone’s favourite band, The Boys, Duncan rode on the crest of a wave during punk’s original late-1970s heyday as part of a wider collective of friends and peers that included Sex Pistols, The Clash, Generation X and a host of other power-chord pioneers. The Boys remain one of the best-loved and influential bands of their generation. Fast forward to today and Duncan’s group Duncan Reid and The Big Heads, are powering their way forward with a fourth album release – Don’t Blame Yourself. And we got them all!
Meet The Big Heads
Lets skip to the good bit…
Ok, so now you know The Big Heads, lets skip to the good bit – the new album! Last time I met with Duncan and the guys was a cold December evening in Brighton. Duncan had hinted in his own subtle way, did I mention that – I have a new album coming. We had been treated to a couple of tracks during that performance. And now after the passing of time the postman had delivered a signed yellow vinyl copy of Don’t Blame Yourself.
The album has been carefully put together and there is no confusion as to which side of the album is which. A dirty great big “A” indicated clearly which side to drop on to the player first and carefully lower the needle. As the needle started its spiral journey I noted that Duncan has added notes and there are loads of colour band pictures on the inner sleeve.
Big Heads = Big Sounds!
Now, if you are going to start an album drop a couple of bangers on there to start. Mr Reid didn’t disappoint on that front. Track one is the craftily worded Your Future Ex Wife and it hits the stride and sweet spot with guitars and drums as Mr Reid fires up his bass and vocals. This is as catchy as you can possibly get. I think this is the first album made up with his current band line up and you can hear it. It’s spot on as guitar breaks and riffs flow from Nick and Sophie. We get powering drums from Karen and then Duncan laying it down with his bass, and vocals and the top layer on this track, or the icing on the cake, are the backing vocals from the band on this.
Don’t let the next one catch you out as is starts off with an almost melancholy sound of keys and plucked guitars. Oh, hang on, here comes Karen! Guitars spark up and we are launched into Mr Reids attempt to get played on the BBC 1 with Mother*ucker. I have seen Mr Reid do this one live and it became an instant crowd pleaser, growling guitars and those recognisable drop breaks and the vocals make this a real stand out song. The lyrics are brilliant! Not sure if we will hear it on the breakfast show anytime soon, and that’s a shame! It would fire up the nation over their cornflakes.
Track 3 is another Reid full on standard, this is a damn fine slice of punk rock with a genius slice of melody sweetly wrapping the whole song. Duncan invites us in with Welcome To My World. Time for a breath with a slower tempo Tea and Sympathy. No sooner than that track ends and here come the Big Heads whirling in with To Live or Live Not. Another crowd pleaser with some fine keys and guitar highlights colouring this song in purple.
A brand new video! To Live or Live Not.
Its an all out rocker. Again an almost orchestral opening for the next track The Grim Reaper. Duncans voice trembles and sounds almost fragile, its haunting. The bass line starts up and I think there is more than a passing nod to a Supertramp sound on this, think maybe Logical Song as this song builds. A brilliantly crafted song with a full on Duncan Reid sound. Back to the guitars for the cracking end to side 1, For All We Know. Duncan takes the events of a Saturday afternoon and crafts the events to fit into this cracking tune. Brilliant.
And now the B Side…
Oh What A Lovely Day starts side 2 with a gentle massage. Duncans lyrics and vocals offer up some reflective moments and memories, aided by some fine slide guitar and when Duncan slows things down he and the Big Heads can generate a feeling of intimacy and warmth. That is a rare quality and, to achieve it so well, is a wonderful thing. Strawberries and cream for tea – that’ll do nicely.
Don’t Blame Yourself
The slide guitars fade away and we are then treated to A Ballad Of A Big Head. A lovely, almost 60’s, vibe to this one. This one throws up an unexpected great throwback of a guitar break at a one point, a 60’s I Wanna Be Your Man style and a surprise introduction of a farfisa organ midway which gives it a warm summer evening feel. Check out the lyrics to that one. An insight to the life of a Big Head, Ballad of A Big Head “We are Big Heads don’t you know?”, yes, we know and we love you for it. Then we are delighted with an almost T Rex vibe of Get It On as what greets your auditory system next is Don’t Blame Yourself. The title track of this release. This just pulses at you, Duncan singing in a lower key works on this as the guys join in with some fabulous backing vocals. I cant wait to see this one live Mr Reid! Its a showstopper. I think I played this track 3 times in a row – it’s that good. The guitars and harmonies are to kill for. This band are on fire right now and the album is testament to that. Its stunning and it ain’t over yet!
The Big Heads are a top live act, and in my opinion very hard live act to beat. The band when they are live seem to just want to have fun, and this album captures the essence of the line up perfectly and they have created an album which by the very sound of it captures that objective of having as much as fun as possible. I can only imagine the fun these guys had whilst recording this.
Came The Day drops the tempo again. A look into what could happen to an older man who bumps into a younger woman and lets her into his life. Then its back to Duncan Reid at his power-pop best with Little Miss Understood. Duncan and the guys rock this one along, its short but what a blast.
Next up is Dave, again another intricate story weaved by Duncan. Again this is a top track with some really fine keys that just lift the song high. Mr Reid spoils us with some really fine Rickenbacker bass. Almost there, one more track Jealousy. Back up to speed to close as Nick and Sophie highlight some fine guitar picking as Mr Reids vocals and band harmonies melt into a terrific song. Jealousy begins all super catchy and clever, then it ends with a sigh, interweaving almost angry guitars and those trademark softer harmony vocals. It’s a great song it has a distinctive beginning, middle and ending. Classic Reid.
Don’t Blame Yourself is a gem of an album. Its chock full of rock-punky pop songs. This album shifts and takes you on a musical ride. It’s full of twists and turns, rocking out your speakers one minute and then at other times it might just sooth your troubles away. Its a slice of damn good time pop/rock and there is nothing at all wrong with it. No fillers on this one and as Covid 19 and the Lockdown continues you could do no worse than grab a copy of this. It is THAT good. I know the guys had a huge launch party planned and some dates to see this album on its way, but we are going to have to wait until the live venue and social distancing measures are removed.
The songs written by Mr Reid hold their own. No corporate songwriting here! They are fresh and many of the songs are wrapped in Duncans observations on life, death and everything in between. Over the years we have enjoyed plenty of sing-alongs with The Big Heads, the material included on this top album are going to give us many more.
Well played Duncan Reid and The Big Heads. Its a belter of an album. I always appreciate a well polished and articulated live performance, the Big Heads do that every time. I also love listening to music that rocks or has plenty of layers and arranged perfection, and this album catches all of that perfectly. You get The Bigheads sound, personality and performance. It has such a strong sprit to it.
Don’t blame yourself, just kick yourself if you don’t get a copy of this. A masterful album.
Duncan Reid is on the WWW at https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/
You can find The Big Heads on Facebook here.
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