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Overend Watts: He's Real Gone

Sadly, He's Real Gone will be the first and last solo album from Mott The Hoople man Overend Watts, the band's legendary bassist and founder member passing away at the beginning of the year. Changing his album's name from She's Real Gone when he realised that he would no longer be with us when it finally arrived after a decade long wait, illustrates perfectly the humour of the man and the album he created. Aside from a few contributions of backing vocals, guitar and programming from Watts' friend Phil Hendricks, everything is performed by the main man; dulcimer to banjo and synth-guitar to vocals given a serious workout.

At first glance it's a curious collection and anyone looking for the 70s rock of the post Hoople band Mott (where Watts wrote a vast chunk of the material) will initially be caught off guard, a strangely progressive pop slap coming to the fore in the attack of the near title track, "She's Real Gone" and "The Dinosaw Market". The nearest comparison it's possible to scrabble about and find being XTC jamming with The Cardiacs via The Dowling Poole. Odd indeed, but let it simmer, settle and then return, and you'll be struck by how catchy it all becomes.

"Caribbean Hate Song" emphasises the dreamy prog side further, adding some off kilter spoken vocals. This album's willingness to head down less expected paths always at the forefront of its thinking. From there "He's A Diamond" turn ups the jangle factor for some 60s meets 70s pop, via an 80s sheen, while "Miss Kensington" and the thoroughly bonkers "Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel" illustrate a more psychedelic edge and benefit hugely from it. Add in the melancholy honesty of "The Magic Garden" and the contrarily upbeat "Endless Night" and if there's one thing you're assured of on He's Real Gone, it's that nothing is assured whatsoever. Fittingly the album closes out with an original demo of "Born In '58" featuring Dale Griffin and Morgan Fisher, which still hits as hard now as it did on the Mott's The Hoople album back in 1974. Strangely, if unsurprisingly, it also fits the devil may care attitude of this album perfectly.

Reading comments from those who knew Overend Watts that He's Real Gone absolutely captures the spirit of the man who created it means that this solo album succeeds in a way that many, if not most, certainly don't. For those not quite so acquainted with him the journey to discovery is a tougher one, an initially impenetrable set of songs only slowly revealing their charms. Still for an artist famed for his humour and uncompromising nature, should we have expected any else?

Track Listing
1. She's Real Gone
2. The Dinosaw Market
3. Caribbean Hate Song
4. He'd Be A Diamond
5. The Legend Of Redmire Pool
6. Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel
7. Belle Of The Boot
8. There's Berkeley Power Station
9. The Magic Garden
10. Endless Night
11. Rise Up
12. The Search
13. Miss Kingston
14. Born Late 58 (original demo)

Added: September 9th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: He's Real Gone at Angel Air
Hits: 410
Language: english

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