independent

Friday 20 October 2017

After 30 years together, Aslan have never sounded better

WITH JON WRIGHT

'NUDIE BOOKS and Frenchies' is the new opus from nonstop working band Aslan. I have to be honest I really can't believe they're celebrating thirty years together.

Talking with lead singer Christy Dignam, he told me how excited the band were with the new release and as part of their 30th celebration that they'd be the first band to play in Tallaght stadium on June 30. He told me of the fond memories the band had playing many years ago when they were starting off and how he still gets that same buzz from the audience.

After that long together I have to say, I approached the new album with slight trepidation, as many bands that long together seem to lose that certain creative magic. Well fear not as personally I have to say it sounds like their best work to date (and that is saying something!). Christy's vocals have never sounded better and are still as full of emotion as three decades ago.

Christy told me the whole album was recorded in lead guitarist Joe's house. As a result, the whole affair has that rawness about it, which is so often lacking in today's rock music. The opening track 'Frank's Van' is a nostalgic look back to anyone who grew up in Finglas in the 70s when there were no shops in the area and weekly a van would sell groceries, sweets etc. Mothers could buy what they need and pay off week by week. The song is a vivid reminder to the listener of the hardship growing up in that time.

The only track not written by the band is the singl ' Too Late for Hallelujah'. It's a beautiful haunting track that takes you back to those ' Crazy World' days. The rocky and anthemic ' Silent Souls' really shows they still have it! With its thumping drumbeat and sing-along chorus. There's a real Dylanesque feel to the songwriting throughout the whole album which is in my opinion so refreshing in these days of rhyming dictionary songs.

'Once Upon a Time The End' starts with a gorgeous ELO vocal effect feel, then builds into a crescendo of crashing cymbals and roaring guitars (nice). My absolute favourite track on the whole album has to be without doubt the absolute gem of a song ' That's Just The Way It Is'. With its Bowie-esque trip down Ziggy Stardust road it really just screams a hit, with a killing riff, foot tapping beat and hum along melody. Then there's the lovely Lennon-esque ballad 'Wait For Our Friends' where Christy's vocals really do shine accompanied by luscious strings. The album closes the ten tracks with 'Wake-up Call', which is yet another classic Aslan stylistic song

They may be going 30 years but have managed to keep their original sound yet still making it sound contemporary. As for the tongue in cheek title of the album (a look back to when times were slightly different in Ireland) just think when you go into your local record shop and ask for 'Nudie Books and Frenchies' that not only will you be adding a great album to your music collection, but you'll probably get a laugh out of the sales assistant!

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