Thursday, 27 August 2015

Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man, c.1979

The next album I have chosen to review is a new wave / power pop masterpiece from way back in 1979. Following the demise of the Motors, Bram Tchaikovsky (aka Peter Bramall) set about creating his own band, confusingly also called Bram Tchaikovsky. I had heard a few of their songs, most likely on the John Peel radio show or something similar back in the late 1970's but never owned any of their records. This was all put right a few weeks ago when I was lucky enough to find a copy of Strange Man, Changed Man in a second hand record shop.

Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man
Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man

Side one opens with the title track, Strange Man, Changed Man, which opens with a beautiful, punky guitar riff, joined later by drums and bass, and then finally the vocals as the song builds into a fine example of later 1970's power pop. It merges almost seamlessly into Lonely Dancer which continues along the same lines. Track 3, Robber, is another strong track with tinges of the Beatles' Dr Robert, in fact you can almost replace Robber for Robert. The next track, Bloodline, starts with an almost heavy metal riff, but of course nothing wrong with that at all, and it's still overlaid with wonderful, power pop / new wave style vocals. The final track on side one, Turn on the Light, ends the side well although a little less power pop and more country rock oriented.

Side two kicks off with Girl of my Dreams. with the opening line of "Judy was an American girl". I'm not sure what it is about the use of the name Judy in songs but in me in conjures up a dream of America that I had growing up as a kid, long before I ever visited, that was also of course bolstered by a healthy does of US 1970's television programmes. I was also reminded of Judy is a Punk by The Ramones, and "Judy's in the bedroom, inventing situations" from Found a Job by Talking Heads, and Judy Says by The Vibrators, although the latter being British rather than American kind of spoils the thread here. Track two, Nobody Knows features a mean and dirty bass sound that would not be out of place on an early Stranglers track. Oddly, the next track Lady from the USA, did not actually evoke any teenage imaginings of the US for me, probably as it's more of a country rock ballad. It's not a bad song but seems a little out of place here. Track four is what I can only describe as a Status Quo cover version of I'm a Believer and sadly reduces a quite wonderful song to monotonous, repetitive chords. Track five, Sarah Smiles, returns with another perfect slice of power pop, before veering downhill again into the final track, Turn On the Light, which seems to be another Quo inspired riff.

Overall though, apart from a couple of blips on the second side, a fantastic album which would sit well in anyone's new wave, power pop collection.