Friday, June 14, 2024

Peter Goalby – The Solo Anthology

Having been a member of rock bands Fable, Trapeze and Uriah Heep, toured the world, made some solo singles alongside guesting on others (including Slade), Peter Goalby walked away from the spotlight under which he sang.

A great shame, because he was both a singer and songwriter worth listening to. Really worth listening to. Rumours passed between fans of recorded work not released for decades, then at the tail-end of last year and beginning of this, two records were released, Easy With The Heartaches and I’ll Come Runnin’.

The material itself was age-old demos with no subsequent overdubs, recorded after Goalby left Uriah Heep. Aside from Goalby on vocals and guitar, Paul Hodson plays keyboards and is responsible for drums and bass programming, there are a few guitar solos from Eddy Morton, and Robin George playing guitar on a few others. Such is the quality of these songs, there’s been much acclaim for their official release internationally.

Now comes The Solo Anthology, collecting tracks from those two releases alongside more tracks, previously released as 7” singles.

This new collection opens in optimistic fashion with ‘Hold The Dream’ Goalby’s voice resonates powerfully as he declares “a burning ambition to be star of the show, a conscious decision to never let go”. That he still had the hunger to succeed is evidenced here, and with a voice that many compared to the likes of Lou Gramm, Meatloaf and Michael Bolton in timbre; who could deny his career trajectory should have continued, save for the fickle fashions of the music industry. That this is a great singer can’t be denied when listening, and the affecting keyboard melodies already inform us we’re in melodic rock, AOR territory.

Bopping away next is ‘Waitin’ For An Angel To Call’ and rather than wanting to be the centre of attention, lyrically this one’s about being a wallflower when everyone else seems to have struck lucky and got paired off – It features some great heart-weary lines, not least “waiting for that slow-dance to paradise”. With ‘Easy With The Heartaches’ the music chugs down for steady paced verses wherein hard luck stories are related, then the guitars fall back eliciting prouder upbeat chords on the chorus as hopeful optimism is espoused. Lyrically, Goalby sits to one side of the cliché, with a turn of phrase that applies comparative allegories familiar enough for the everyman to hit the mark and ring true with the listener often.

With an impassioned delivery from Goalby, ‘It Was There All The Time’ should have been an AOR hit over in the USA back in the day. Its theme the same one used for many a romcom movie wherein lines espoused about the love of your life being “right there all the time” still a golden opportunity for some producer to make good use of. ‘They’ll Never Find Us (Running For Our Lives)’ takes a different tact, with the love expressed from each other from the start. This possibly forbidden love seems imbued with an overall love of early Beatles while being performed as an upbeat, speedy pendulum rocker that could have slipped onto Uriah Heep’s Abominog album and held its own.  

The various situations we find ourselves in romantically, from euphoria to disillusionment and despair have captured writers of poetry, film, novel and song for time immemorial and over the breadth of the eleven tracks on this album, Peter Goalby’s well does not run dry as he sips from the cup and gives us a taste of love that can be both bitter and sweet.

Keyboards and rocking guitar lead us in for an all-too familiar tale of being there as a shoulder to cry on, but perhaps not first choice as actual lover with ‘I Will Come Runnin’’ and lines like “When you get tired of this old world call my name and I’ll run to you” Continuing cheekily in upbeat melodic rock manner, with a big chorus to boot in ‘The Last Time’. Basically, it’s about him saying he’ll not have his heart broke again, so a nice pairing with the previous number. It’s a great little number, the kind you wouldn’t be surprised to come across on some old 70s Tops of the Pops rerun with girls dancing about in the background, as much as a current rock club gig with added guitars set to 11 and an audience pumping their fists in the air. ‘Dancing on Water’ steps slightly outside the circle. Ambiguously, you may interpret this as about one night stand nightclub hook-ups or akin to The Who’s ‘Pictures of Lily’. The music too is imbued with something of a mysterious new wave feel.

While a version appears on the Easy With The Heartaches album, Mona Lisa Smile’ had first appeared on vinyl under the band pseudonym Soho. The version here has a shorter intro, backing vocals that may well be female, but it’s pretty much the same tune. More of a third person narrative it draws the listener in wanting to pay greater attention.

Just reading the titles, ‘It’s All Over Your Face’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Fight’ appear to be of a similar nature thematically. They were released under the Perfect Stranger tagline. Recorded at Mickie Most’s RAK studio, Goalby sang on the sessions, but never saw the musicians performing on it.  The music itself feels very 70s singles packaged, and could have featured guys who played on Smokie, Hot Chocolate or Arrow records back then, showing the producer’s modus operandi hadn’t changed in over a decade. They’re studied, on the beat, and to be frank the initial power chord of ‘It’s All Over Your Face’ sounds like Slade, the solo by Mick Ralphs back when he was in Mott, yet the song itself as easily could’ve been sung by Cliff Richard. It’s pleasant enough though ‘I Don’t Want To Fight’ has a more contemporary (for the times) sound, fits in more stylistically with the tracks featured on his solo albums, yet the more epic sweep, not least with backing vocals, horns and orchestration (whether they be real or keyboard programmed) tell me that with the right radio plugger this could have been a hit.

Throughout, you have to keep remembering – that for the most part – these are demos so the songs would have developed and may have altered dramatically should an album have appeared back then, rather than us having to wait all this time. An impressive body of work as it is we can only imagine what a full-scale production could have offered.

As it is, this is a collection any fan of melodic rock, Uriah Heep, or simply listening to a strong set of vocal pipes is likely to appreciate, and arrives timely if you’re considering Christmas gifts to give. That it leaves off some of my favourites, like ‘I Used To Be Your Lover’, take as advice that it’s also more than worth your time checking out the two parent Peter Goalby albums available from Cherry Red Records – Oh, and should you place all three record covers alongside each other they form a single landscape image.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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