the Bump Band:
Never Say Never
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
Understandably, McLagan’s own music hasn’t always been his highest priority – he took a 20-year break between his second and third solo albums – but since the turn of the century, he’s been on a bit of a tear; 2000’s Best of British kicked off an impressive run that, with the release of Never Say Never, includes five studio releases and a live collection – in addition to his tenure in Billy Bragg’s band and ever-crowded session schedule.
Sadly, Never Say Never has its roots in tragedy – the album is dedicated to McLagan’s late wife, Kim, whose death in a car accident prematurely ended their 28-year marriage in 2006. Fans of McLagan’s sweetly ragged brand of pub rock needn’t worry, though; the album boasts the same proudly imperfect blend of shout-along rockers and boozy ballads you’ve come to expect, starting with the title track, a down-tempo, electric piano-led number that sounds like it could be a new Faces recording.
The highlights pile up like peanut shells at the bar: The seesaw groove of "Little Black Number," the classic rock rave-up of "I Will Follow," the vaguely Hawaiian lilt of "Killing Me with Love," the Felice Brothers cover-in-waiting "My Irish Rose." The album’s only real bum note comes with "Where Angels Hide," a solo piano ballad that exceeds McLagan’s limited vocal grasp. The crooked, one-legged hop of his croon is usually part of McLagan’s charm, but it works better as part of a song’s seasoning than as a lead instrument – something underscored by some of the album’s superior slow songs, like the beautiful, Hammond-laced waltz that closes the album, "When the Crying Is Over," or "Loverman," which almost sounds like a lost Pussy Cats-era Nilsson track.
It won’t attract a lot of attention outside the classic rock faithful, but for anyone who misses the Faces – or the late ‘70s heyday of pub rockers like Nick Lowe – Never Say Never proves the old way of doing things still works wonderfully.