Lightheavyweight 2 is a contender
Lightheavyweight 2 - Jack Howard (self released)
Trumpet player. One of the guys in the Hunnas horn section. And The Horns of Contempt.
Who's been playing with Midnight Oil a lot over the last few years. Special gigs with X, a few with Hunnas, but ... you know. Day job, kids ... who has time to be creative these days?
Jack can't let go of the creative bug. In between all those suburban things, he's been doing solo material, working with the band Epic Brass (a sight to behold) ... good, God, there are 15 releases on his Bandcamp page!
Fifteen! ... he's even written a book, for chrissake.
All while we've been moaning about how we don't have the time to be creative like we used to.
My first response is ... this should be the modern beat scene. Strangely, eerily in some parts, lush and Spartan.
Now, on the Bandcamp page Jack has provided helpful notes to the inspiration behind the songs, as well as the lyric.
However ... I just love the entire LP without the lyrics & explanations. “Lightheavyweight 2” is an entire low-key sly-sky lounge-esque trip, rustling with romance and mystery.
It's partly the lyrics (the first song, “Sao Paol”', is quoted in full below) but mostly Jack's grown-up smooth groove.
We caught the lift to the thirty fifth floor
Jetlagged but high on the vibe
Starburst and stucco
Voices in the dark
The doors parted to a penthouse full of burnished Brazilians and a Samba pulse
Hearts on fire, we were led to a velvet booth with a vertigo view of São Paulo
Caipirinhas and cerviche
Feted like stars
Far, far from home
In a bar that spelt seduction
See what I mean? Eloquence and mystery, like the beginning of a Bond book written by Ambler and Chandler. Jack does not boast some grandiose bellow, but adopts the simple tones of a tuneful story-teller. That simplicity is at the heart of the LP, where everyone can see themselves, their experiences, their lives stretching forward and backward ... there are goosebump moments here, I'm telling you.
The second track, “Play that Song Again” ... well, it's about me, isn't it. Or you. All of you. We've been to gigs over and over...and it never gets old or stale...it's the adventure, the whirl of excitement that music brings... and we all know at least one bloke like the one who "sings Hallelujah"...
Here's part of another lyric (not telling you what it's about) ...
A line of silent men
Harbouring who knows what thoughts
From the deep shadows glaring to recognise a face
The brilliant green and the constant noise
Hard to tell a prince from a pauper
The clothes, the bluster, the wide confident laugh
A circle of mates to bullshit with
To win the hearts and the minds and turn their silence outwards
Good to get out of the house anyway
From conversation and expectation
Throughout, Jack's observations, insight and expression are mesmeric, real and painfully familiar. The familiar becomes the site of epic romance, regret, nostalgia, love. “Cicciolina”, to take another example. Just ... magnificent.
Now, I'm not going to spoil this by going through track by track. I could sing the praises of all of them. “Lightheavyweight 2” is a superb LP.
Nor am I going to compare trumpet players 'cos most of us only know Louis Armstrong's “What a Wonderful World”, and that Miles Davis was a grumpy old coot. I will say that “Lightheavyweight 2” reveals quite a bit about the breadth and power of the songs of both Midnight Oil (who I respect but - to the horror of several friends - don't really enjoy) and Hunnas.
Overall, you've always known that Jack Howard has a rather magnificent, everyman style about him. So, here we have a gorgeous classic, best suited to halting the endless stream of TV series and pointless computer games. If you don't have the patience to settle with a book I suggest you quit caffeine and reduce your sugar ... but definitely get close and groovy with Jack Howard.
Guitars by Barry Palmer; pedal-steel by Ed Bates; backing vocals by Fiona Leonard; beats, trumpet and vocals by Jack.
I say “Lightheavyweight 2” is an oyster of an LP which deserves to be slowly prised open ... you'll find plenty of pearls here, and the best gift I can give you is the joy of discovery.
Evenings will never be the same.
Oh, and what's with the title, Jack?
" Lightheavyweight' - because I’m a ‘heavyweight’ because of H & C and the big shit I’ve done ... but really I’m a lightweight. Or at least that’s the conceit."
Funny how Jack thinks of himself as slightly conceited when everyone else thinks he's the polar opposite. Maybe that's part of his creative drive.
The first “Light Heavyweight” was only released on vinyl, not CD and at the moment you can get both for the price of one ...
Let your fingers do the walking here.