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Johnny Hates Jazz

Magnetized


www.johnnyhatesjazz.com

Let’s cut to the chase here, readers – first time around, Johnny Hates Jazz with their better offerings such as ‘Turn Back The Clock’ , Shattered Dreams’ and my favourite ‘Turn the Tide’ seemed to me to be pretty tuneful, pacey for the tempo’s fashionable at that time and obviously competent as a pop act but – being honest – nothing particularly special. Jump all the intervening years to 2013..and ‘Magnetized’ is hands down the best ‘comeback’ album I have ever heard. It’s that simple.

Why ? well they still have a distinctive style and the glue, being Clark Datchler’s voice. Radio-friendly, clear, emphatic. BUT they no longer sound as though they are trying to be in vogue and get on Top Of The Pops. Their melodies are better than ever and rivalling those of the best and most enduring band from that era, Duran Duran. The tempo’s and styles are much more varied AND they work. Lyrically they have in places acquired a depth not present before, at all. Maybe that’s the passage of time or experiencing more, So many 80s acts so-called ‘message’ was – let’s get dressed up and party and..er, that’s it.  The sexiest of them all was the fantastic Fashion, THE great lost group of that time and well worth investigating – electronic, erotic, weird guitar tones, insidious vocals.

The JHJ initial single ‘Magnetized’ gives a capsule of how this group sound now – fresh, not soaked in top-line treble as was the style back in the 80s pop world and a gorgeous stay-with-you melodic line and floating chorus. To sound this good after a 25 year gap is phenomenal and I think they should be judged as a new act with some history, really. I would definitely go and see them live now and that’s the difference.  I disliked most 80s pop acts and retreated into (then inventive) Prince, Was Not Was and Kid Creole with Fashion and Imagination being imho the exception.

Other tracks of interest on this set :  ‘Man With No Name’  has sequenced strings keys intro giving a Rondo Veneziano tinge. Unhurried vocal which seems to dwell on fame. The dirty funk stomp of ‘You belong To You’ with mellow electric piano..very Duran this one and none the worse for that. I don’t think the earlier JHJ would have sounded this tough.

The light skipping beat of ‘Release You’ illustrates a fine lyrical touch on a theme of regret, maybe a tad light on the guitar figures ? a hint of Tears For Fears, if you liked them just get this record now !

‘The eerie ‘Lighthouse’ plunges into a shadowy tread and another cool lyric. The group sets piano against guitar parts particularly well. This cut sounds like a storming set closer where they can turn everything up and rock. And still melodic, as is next number ‘Goodbye Sweet Yesterday’ a slow-medium reflection of a song. Bit of a shame they didn’t put a solo electric violin over the chord sequence, it would have worked a treat.

‘Eternal’ sees the selection out, lullabye tempo. The guitar is too timid, fixable on stage one hopes

Only this crew know what happened to them in The Missing Years. But to come back miles better and deeper is impressive indeed

Pete Sargeant      www.fairhearing.co.uk

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