Gary Guitar Lammin has hit the ground running with his self titled debut solo album released Feb 24th via Requestone Records. It is a curious package that has one hell of a back story to it.
This is quite a curveball from Gary, who cut his teeth playing with a veritable Who’s Who of punk rock, before forming cult punk-blues trio the Joyriders. His solo debut was created under the direction of Sex Pistols producer Dave Goodman, who encouraged Gary to step out of his comfort zone, and explore interests in 60s psychedelia, trippy blues and progressive rock sounds. Stashed away for several years following Goodman’s tragic death, it’s something of a ‘buried treasure’ release, which immortalises the late producer’s talents, and showcases a fresh side to Gary’s songwriting.
From the off you get the sense of those boundaries being pushed, the twang of Gary’s guitar and the very essence of this musical journey, you get enveloped and submerged in its psychedelic glory.
“One of things I never get”, says Gary Lammin, “Is when people release a solo record, and it still sounds exactly the same as what they’re doing with their band”. Needless to say, then, The Bermondsey Joyriders guitarist’s own impending solo debut confirms Lammin’s idea of a ‘solo’ album.
With a career history that reads like a Roxy Club listings bill (he’s recorded with Joe Strummer, toured with Public Image’s Jah Wobble and Generation X’s Mark Laff, plus currently plays with Johnny Thunders drummer Chris Musto in punk-rock-blues merchants the Joyriders), Lammin has always been known first and foremost as a punk rocker. ‘Gary Guitar Lammin’ may be about to put a spin on that impression though, which is fitting for an album whose lyrics grapple with notions of identity, duality and self-perception. Set these philosophical musings to a free-flowing, shape-shifting blend of 60s psychedelia, progressive rock elements, and tripped out delta blues, and we will see you all on Alder Boran.
Lammin’s unexpected guide on this detour from more familiar paths was late, great producer Dave Goodman; a man revered for his pre-Bollocks Sex Pistols recordings, which have been much celebrated for their rawer live sound, and, controversially, much bootlegged, often with Goodman’s blessing. Lammin had the opportunity to watch Goodman at work in his Mandala Studios in London’s Gipsy Hill around the turn of the millennium, when he was recording as a guest guitarist for several different bands. Soon, he was hatching plans for a collaboration with Goodman, a proposal the producer agreed to on one condition. “He asked me, ‘Do we really need another straight down the line punk record, Gary?”, adding, “I’ve got punk coming out of my ears!”, Lammin remembers. Goodman laid down a challenge; “Get out of your comfort zone man, try ANYTHING and then, then I will really produce you”. Lammin therefore, who would often describe himself by saying “I do a bit punk rock via Chuck Berry” was about to set sail on a very, very different ship.
The bulk of the recording took place at Mandala between 2000 and 2003, a few years before Goodman’s tragic death from heart failure in 2005. Shortly before his passing, the producer moved to Malta, with intentions of escaping the endless parade of colourful characters and chaotic parties which continually passed through Mandala Studios. At the time of the recording though, this lively backdrop was still a rich source of inspiration, and not yet a dangerous distraction. Much of the album’s thoughtful, introspective lyrical content was derived from late night conversations between Lammin and Goodman, while further inspiration was drawn from the Mick Jagger film ‘Performance’, and its exploration of dual identities.
Musically, Lammin says the record was structured to recreate the arc of a psychedelic experience, with Goodman’s contributions on sitar, tabla and Tibetan flute serving to complement Lammin’s shimmering slide guitar parts and the overall trippy ambience. Building slowly from hazy ripples of melody on the esoterically-flavoured instrumental ‘Silver White Shadow’, the album then moves through the eerie, mystical blues of extended dream sequence ‘Last Night I Dreamt I Met My Enemy’, and finally floats back down to earth, minus a few brain cells, with a reprise of the atmospheric intro track ‘All Opinion Will Eventually Change’.
Among many highlights are the haunting break-up song and lead single ‘Value’ (out on 17th February), on which Goodman plays drums and bass, and its raucous b-side ‘Hey! Mr John Sinclair!’; a collaboration with the titular MC5 manager, performance poet, White Panthers founder and cannabis activist, and a pair of south London gospel singers, whose soulful backing vocals contrast with Sinclair’s own spoken word parts, creating a spirited hymn to a counterculture icon.
Alongside ‘Performance’’s influence on the lyrics, the opinion dividing Stones album ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ is cited as providing a partial template for the music, and this is perhaps most in evidence on two of the tracks where the vocal was finished after Goodman’s death; ‘Take More Care’, and ‘Is That Alright By You?’, which were completed at Dirty Strangers frontman Alan Clayton’s studio in Shepherd’s Bush.
After Goodman’s death, Lammin shelved the album for several years, revisiting it only occasionally to remember the fun of working with Dave, but never considering a release until he received the endorsement of Mat Sergeant, of the punk band Chelsea and curator of an online tribute to Goodman. Mat Sergeant’s encouragement saw Lammin contact Dave’s widow Kathy, who then advised him to release it, stating “Gary, it’s a beautiful album, and a brilliant testament to Dave’s studio skills”
A truly fascinating story, beautifully told through 10 mesmerizing tracks, an album for the independent thinker and someone ready to take a ride, a ride back in time, an excursion of the mind of sorts. Driving on my 1st day after Christmas, going to work for “The Man” I got it, listening to ‘Lost & Falling’ I just got it. You can just loose yourself in this album and I’d advise you to do so. Step outside your comfort zone and get a new found appreciation for the artistry and depth of love put into this fine piece of work.It’s a badge of honor for Gary & Dave and their dedication to this project, a worthy testament to the great Dave Goodman and a classy tribute from Gary himself to a dear friend.
‘Gary Guitar Lammin’, which is released on 24th February 2017 via Requestone Records
1) All Opinion Will Eventually Change (intro)
2) Silver White Shadow
3) Lost And Falling
4) Last Night I Dreamt I Met My Enemy Parts 1 & 2
6) Take More Care
7) Is That Alright By You?
8) Memo From Turner
9) Hey! – Mr John Sinclair
10) All Opinion Will Eventually Change