Issue 1 – an immediate, solid, enjoyable and interesting listening experience.
The Middlenight Men
Who are these masked musicians who seem to have arrived on earth via a lightning bolt?
2019 saw the birth of The Middlenight Men. A band that has been born out of 2 decades of touring and partying from dozens of interlinked musical projects that has seen it’s members come together to form a superstar band of epic pop proportions.
In 2000 Nick Hughes went to Bretton Hall College to study music where he was quickly introduced to Leon Cave (who went on to join Status Quo as their full time drummer in 2013). They met in the band Ska Wars and went on to play in many bands together through the early 2000s before going their separate ways only for Nick to move to London specifically to rejoin Leon in the band The Crane Brothers in 2007. There has rarely been a break in 20 years where these two haven’t been in a project together.
Nick met producer Andy Brook upon joining the soho based power pop band The Role Models in 2015. Quickly a bond was formed and Nick has rarely recorded with anyone else up until this point 5 years on. Andy has also recorded Nick at Abbey Road studios when he was hired gun for the LA based band Love Zombies.
Hughes’s reputation for being one of those guys who pops up in every band in every genre has been made from a decade of touring the UK circuit, and hitting the bars of Camden just as much. It was a chance encounter in 2013 with Chris McCormack (3 Colours Red, The Professionals) that landed him a session gig playing in The Yo-Yos with Chris’s Wildhearts brother, Danny McCormack. The Yo-Yos were headed by Tom Spencer (The Professionals) and Nick was instantly won over by Spencer’s gritty cockney vocals. Since then it was just a matter of time until he managed to write a song fit for his style of delivery (B.A. Baby).
BA BABY: Damn this is as infectious as it gets. Its Scene Sussex most played video from last year! You need to see the “making of” on the bands FaceBook page!
After years of being told to write his own album, the inspiration finally hit when he was on a South American tour with Duncan Reid and The Bigheads (featuring Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid of ’77 power pop band The Boys). During a 3 day stint in Buenos Aires Nick found himself lone guitarist (due to his partner in crime missing TWO planes) and at the full mercy of the latino fans. Over these 3 days he found himself in some intense situations, with no ability to speak the language and being driven to parties in the middle of nowhere and struggling to find his way from gig to gig. Out of this story was born BA Baby and The Middlenight Men.
Nick wrote ISSUE 1 over the next year and went in the studio with Leon and Andy in November 2019.
The Middlenight Men: Issue 1 ( what a cover!)
The turquoise vinyl edition of Issue 1 arrived. The artwork on the outer wrapping of this vinyl is stunning! Have a look! Straight outta Marvel or DC comic books. Its awesome to look at and the back cover is equally impressive. Inside a colour in sheet, maybe to colour in whilst listening to the album unfurl its wonderful sounds and colour. Sadly I was too busy bopping round the room to the music to do it…..yet! What a sound! I have bumped into Mr Hughes at various Duncan Reid gigs a number of times. Damn nice fella, and boy can he play guitar!
The tracklisting –
1. Rat Star
2. B.A. Baby
3. You (Getting Over)
4. Heroine Heights
5. Prison Of Love
7. We All Need Help Before Tomorrow
8. They’ll Be The Ones
9. Budapest Brawler
Two tracks not on the album, but are available to download and are on the CD version of the album, so vinyl lovers, don’t worry you wont miss out!
11. The Story Of The Three
12. Everybody’s Been Broken Hearted
Issue 1 – Side 1
How the hell do you start this? I had followed these guys since BA Baby was released, and then Rat Star, which is track one. A blast of feedback, drums and band kick in and the chant of “Hey!”. People always ask – who do they sound like? Ok, if you cross the best bits of early Busted/McFly and stir in some Wildhearts and Green Day you might get somewhere close. Rat Star, is a powered up charge of a track, an opening salvo to knock you to the floor until the album has finished. At last a copy, my own copy of BA Baby! It steams out of the HiFi and sounds magnificent. Its all there the grinding guitar, the super vocal mix and handclaps. The lyrics are sharp and humourous and reveal a rather shady tale! God l love this album and only two tracks in!
Track 3, You (Getting Over), hits you damn hard, tugging hard at all your auditory senses. This is loud its rawk-ous. The powerful riffs rip at you, some damn fine drum patterns will rattle any loose objects within 20 feet of your speakers. Its full of crowd pleasing drops. The Guitars don’t let up as The Middlenight Men smack you up with their take of the Batman Theme and we are into Heroine Heights. A full on comic story strip fired along and told alongside an all out ripper of a track. One word – sublime! All your favourite comic book characters get a shout, as a guitar break brings in the Spiderman Theme. The video is stunning – please check it out!
The last track on side one is Prison Of Love. This is so rich in all sounds, its almost a full on metal melter, and has an Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet era – sound, as the vocals start with a menacing growl, and then song breaks free with horns and guitar riffs and then The Middlenight Men come back and lay down some superb vocals. It breaks into a metal guitar break that any heavy metal band probably wish they had written. This track thunders with class and style.
ISSUE 1: SIDE 2
Side 2 opens with some fuzzed up slow guitar and Nick opens the searing heartfelt vocals. ExtroIntro. This is one certainly one of those Oasis style anthem stadium crowd pleasers. Drums and bass and sublime choral vocals lift this track way up there. That’s it, no more resting up as track 2 opens up in a Greenday style – We All Need Help Before Tomorrow. Rumoured to be single number 4. A wall of muted guitars and vocals greet you. Stop and then the full sound bursts out of your speakers. Track 3 – They’ll Be The Ones opens with some heavy guitar work and thunders to life, and then a synth/farfissa organ is thrown into the mix. Should this really work? Hell yes! Its astonishing. This will give you an RSI in your ankle as your foot taps this one out. The amped up Batman riff reappears briefly and some brass thrown in for good measure. Is it over the top? Yes, possibly but this is beautifully crafted and sounds perfect. There also a kind of Ramones progression to it before the heavy metal riff catches you off guard. It’s mixed up, it’s crazy, its brilliant and it’s as catchy as a cold!
Budapest Brawler opens up with some almost Wildhearts feedback and guitar riffs. But this is not just a copy its the Middlenight Men! Just listen to the guitar work on this and those drops to kill for. These guys are breaking new ground and expanding the expectations of anyone lucky to have this album. The guys, aside from the previous comparisons, have a unique, intelligent and fun core sound. With solid production values and equally strong performances throughout, this provides an immediate, exciting and worthwhile listening experience. And so dear reader, we hit the last track of the vinyl edition. An electric piano starts up as drums and guitars crash in. The song is Sleep. Nick delivers another totally on point slower track. I close my eyes and I can see a huge crowd singing along with lighters and phone camera lights held aloft swaying side to side. With stunning lyrical depth, The Middlenight Men perfectly execute each moment of this one through sheer brilliant dynamics and a strong studio performance.
It’s the Marvel Avengers of the rock and roll world.
And Finally – JUST BUY IT!
Issue 1 is truly remarkable for a first album. Its packed with everything you could possibly want. It features a rich and hugely entertaining selection of styles and tunes. Its all wrapped up and presented with a diverse rock n’ roll flavouring. The talent on display here is weaved together with some refined production, song arrangements, and pop craftsmanship. The result is ISSUE 1, its a confident and entertaining record. It’s a different, but familiar and hugely entertaining album. Issue 1 is backed with a solid production and performance throughout.
There are no fillers on this album. The Middlenight Men have hit the spot. They are my new favourite band, give them a try and I am pretty sure they will enter your list of top bands. What they have done is extraordinary and they have provided an immediate, enjoyable and interesting listening experience. Cant wait for Issue 2!
I so want to see these guys live – if it comes off we will cover it here.
YOU WANT MORE!
Website – https://themiddlenightmen.com/home
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/themiddlenightmen
Screen grabs and Photo courtesy of The Middlenight Men. Original photo of Nick Hughes by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex.
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