Review: Gary “Guitar” Lammin – Gary “Guitar” Lammin

This one’s a little different on a couple of scores. First of all, it’s a “psychedelic punk rock blues odyssey” and secondly it’s a tribute to not another performing artist, but a producer – Dave Goodman. Goodman produced, amongst others, the Sex Pistols before they caught the public ear at his Mandala Studios in London.

A little history about this album before I delve into the content, as it’s an interesting story. Lammin watched and worked with Goodman around the turn of the century at Mandala Studios. At the time, Lammin was sessioning for various artists (he’s played guitar with Joe Strummer, Jah Wobble and loads more as well as his own band The Bermondsey Joyriders). He was impressed enough that he wanted to work on a solo project with Goodman, but was given one condition: “I’ve got punk coming out of my ears, Gary! Get out of your comfort zone, man. Try anything… and then, then I will really produce you.”

This worked well for Lammin who’s quoted as saying “One of the things I never get is when people release a solo record, and it still sounds exactly the same as what they’re doing with their band.” He’s not wrong.

The album that’s about to be released was recorded mainly between 2000 and 2003, before Goodman died of heart failure in 2005. Lammin shelved the project and pretty much forgot about it, only pulling it out for personal listening pleasure now and again with no plans to release it. Enter Mat Sergeant of punk band Chelsea who was working on a tribute project to Goodman and who got wind of the recordings. Lammin in turn got in touch with Goodman’s widow Kate who told him to release it. “Gary, it’s a beautiful album,” she said, “and a brilliant testament to Dave’s studio skills.”

And that’s where we come in. To pretty much agree with her. This is not a punk album, not by any shot. It’s closer to Pink Floyd or The Doors than it is to The Exploited or The Ramones… and it’s gorgeous.

Though there are separate tracks, in places it plays as a continuous number with songs flowing one into the other. There’s a definite trippiness to proceedings, with airy keyboards and organs being used to good effect leading to a definite 70’s rock feel to the whole thing. This isn’t music to get angry and institution-destructive to, it’s an album to lie back and relax to. Let it flow over you and seep into your pores.

As well as Lammin’s songwriting, credit very much must be given to Goodman. A lot of the songs have a huge amount going on within them – take “Value” for instance – but at no point do they feel overly busy. Everything is layered perfectly so individual tracks/instruments work together, not crashing or clashing.

It’s difficult to pluck highlights out, but I’d probably go for “Value” and “Take More Care” which sit in the middle of the playlist. They’re similar in that they’re gently acoustic-led songs with a gritty edge courtesy of Lammin’s vocals, yet are streets apart in attitude.

This is a great album, showing off both the artist named on the cover and the chap who honed his output into something very special indeed. Definitely worth a quick listen for fans of classic 70’s rock.

Gary “Guitar” Lammin is out on February 24th.

Gary “Guitar” Lammin: official

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