Too often mentioned purely in dispatches as founder of the influential La’s, MIKE BADGER’S career has encompassed so much more. With The Onset, he fronted perhaps the UK’S most pioneering Roots-Rock bands, while his solo albums ‘Volume’ and ‘Double Zero’ are among his many treasures out there waiting to be discovered by the discerning.
Mike’s successful sculpting career has taken precedent over his music in recent years, but his 2009 SXSW Festival appearances heralded a new beginning. Since then, he’s toured the UK and US with the great, but short-lived Nashville Liverpool Underground Medicine Show and now he’s back fronting a brand new band called MIKE BADGER & THE SHADY TRIO.
Anyone who knows Mike’s more recent work will realise there’s continuity here. The Shady Trio comprise lead guitarist Barry Southern who works with upright bassist Chris Marshall in The Loose Moose String Band, while drummer Ian Laney also sits behind the traps in fellow ace Scouse Root-sters Tramp Attack with both Barry and Chris. To say they know each other well musically is something of an understatement, but the ease and dynamism they enjoy as a unit is one of many reasons why their limited edition 6-track debut EP is such a joy for the ears to behold.
One of the others is of course Mike Badger’s skill and dexterity as a song-writer. The six self-penned tunes are typically witty, wry and wise and when they’re allied to this no-nonsense, live-in-the-studio vibe, the results are both consistent and memorable.
Although the overall feel is gutsy and Roots-imbued, opening track ‘I Love My Love’ is closer in hue to straight-ahead Indie guitar pop. Crisp, efficient and joyous, it features some gorgeously fluid lead guitar from Barry Southern and features Mike noting sagely “just remember you’re nothing without your love.” Amen to that.
From thereon in, the band’s natural Roots-enhanced slant establishes itself. The light-hearted ‘What You Done to Me’ contrasts nicely with the harder-edged Rockabilly scuffle of ‘Shake It Up!’, though it’s all cut through with a gritty, contemporary edge as the brilliant ‘Ten Commandments of Rock’ makes abundantly clear. Musically, its’ beefed-up punky Eddie Cochran-style swagger is addictive enough, but its’ spot-on lyrical invective (“thou shalt not lose thy name in a wanton pursuit of fame”) fizzes like a grenade. One any decent individual feels like shoving down Simon Cowell’s throat.
Into the home strait, there are a couple of absolute belters waiting. The redemptive ‘For Who I Am’ features one of Badger’s most impassioned vocal performances to date and even a hint or two of Buddy Holly, while the gentle finale, ‘Everybody’s Drinking’ is perhaps my favourite of all. A truly lovely sad’n’blue end of the night ballad featuring a kid glove performance from the band, it’s another of those affecting, heartfelt moments (a la ‘Precious Love’ and ‘Ashtrays, Tables & Barstools’) which Mike has often excelled at along the way.
Mike Badger & The Shady Trio, then, are on their way. This little gem is available on a strictly limited basis, so go straight to their website (Mike Badger online) and dig in. You won’t regret it.
Mike Badger & The Shady Trio on Myspace