Saturday, 19 May 2012


California Star
Gonzo 2012
Four decades on since their kitchen-sink start, the Tyneside bunch cook up their second - and most eclectic - record for a new millennium.
Formed in 1982 and split in 1992 only to go at it again in 2000, THE DAINTEES, led by undaunted Martin Stephenson, are looking for stellar delights now - the delights, as the cover of the band's sixth studio album suggests, in the vein of ''Le Petit Prince'', from the mature point of view. This point is the focus of the record's folksy centerpiece "Boy To Man" that, via the piano boogie "Power That Is Greater" with its "I'm not an orphan anymore" joyous chorus, innocently connects the urban shimmer of the Knopfleresque opener "The Ship" with the eyes-wide-open reggae of closer "I'm In Love For The First Time". As a result, each song creates a buzzing microcosm which the singer inhabits and expands to let his listener in.
It's easy to relate to the reckless rockabilly rumble of "Long Way To Go" or the harmonica-oiled blues riffage of "Ready To Move On", but the flamenco lace of "Streets Of San Sebastian", a fabulous relocation of a certain Ralph McTell's ballad, brings a tragic romance into the picture which is framed with Stuart Macleod's acoustic guitar and Kate Stephenson's marching drum. Elsewhere, the delicate hoedown of "Sweet Cherwine", high on the fiddle doodles, flows down the humorous lane to drink from the timeless source of inspiration and spread the tuneful water around and ooze the class as it goes. Far away from Laurel Canyon, "California Star" shines as one of the best British records of 2012.

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