“And lo, on the sixth day, BOB said “That’ll do, lad. Let their be ‘light’ or some such”, put their feet up, had a brew and gazed proudly over what they had created”.
Six years ago, I sat down with a copy of ‘Leave The Straight Life Behind’, then about to be reissued as an expanded 2-disc CD set on 3 Loop Music, and I found myself not only wondering what had ever happened to BOB, but ruminating on how much things had changed between the time that BOB were working at the ‘coal-face’ during the late 80s/early 90s, and how music discovery had shifted from a thing of hard labour and dedication to the cause, to the sheer, utter complacency we find ourselves guilty of in this world full of playlists, streaming, search engines and questionable downloads. I researched my subjects, knowing only a little of them from back in the day, and felt that this release, as excellent as it was, may just have been the last wheeze from a soon-to-be musical cadaver that may, but most likely may not, afford the band with a few welcome pennies and a brief ride on the musical nostalgia train that throws you under the wheels as quickly as it whisks you up with hopes of comeback tours and new-found audiences.
But it seems a chord was struck and enthusiasm revitalised, not only with fans old and new, but with the band themselves. A short tour did indeed ensue, along with a singles and EP’s release and the embers were seemingly being fanned.
And so we have the album that never was. ‘You Can Stop That For A Start’ consists of a core album of twelve songs, remixed by band members and principal songwriters, Simon Armstrong and Richard Blackborow, after the original multitracks were baked and transferred to the digital domain, and are now wrapped up in new artwork and available for the first time ever on both CD and vinyl as well as the obligatory digital platforms. Recorded between ’88 and ’94 (the core album itself was recorded in ’92) , we are presented with yet another collection of superbly written, beautifully simple and intoxicating pop songs that leave me in that same state of utter incomprehension I experienced six years ago as to how and why BOB slipped through the net. I mean, the core album, which outdoes most of the dross we were offered back in the day under the overused banner of Brit-Pop, was recorded in just five days. FIVE DAYS! That’s almost biblical.
There is a beautiful simplicity to tracks like ‘Say You’re Alone’ with all its twangy guitars and banjos and tight harmonies. Songs that feature pulsating guitars that bands like The Smiths and R.E.M. were using to great effect (and success), raucous rockers that would not go amiss on a Supergrass or Stereophonics album and a clutch of songs, like ‘Sundown’, that do Oasis better than the Gallagher brothers could summon up on a good day. But I feel that comparing BOB to the bands that hogged the airwaves of that era is doing Simon and Richard a huge disservice. Given the dates of these recordings, it is quite conceivable that the aforementioned luminaries had all seen or heard a BOB track or two and nicked that shit right out from under their noses!
The twelve track album, released on Optic Nerve Recordings on September 25th, is further augmented with sixteen other recordings, chosen by the band from the archives as some of their favourite demos, that simply would not be out of place on a potential third album in its own right. And unlike ‘Leave The Straight Life Behind’, this new album is available on both CD and vinyl, the latter of which is being pressed in traditional black, as well as blue and white in very limited numbers. These vinyl editions include the 12-track album on the physical media and come with all twenty-eight tracks as a digital download. The CD has everything spread out over two discs.
And so I find myself drifting back to my musings on present-day music discovery and I am beginning to think that actually, it isn’t such a bad thing after all. Especially if it serves up complete gems such as this. One can only hope that either there are more nuggets like these in a box somewhere, waiting to see the light of day, or that BOB will maybe deliver some new material, spurred on by the success that this album deserves to have. This is guitar-based pop at its best, fine song smithery of the highest order, whether it’s the 90s or the present day, and deserves repeated listening. Not a duff track in sight. Buy this record.
The album is released on Optic Nerve Recordings on September 25th, 2020: https://opticnerverecordings.com/collections/bob
BOB - ‘You Can Stop That For A Start’ Review
BOB issue their “lost album” and other era-related tracks and Rob Puricelli still wonders how they were so overlooked…