Located in South East England you’ll find the Medway-based group Groovy Uncle, and they’re back again with the release of their sixth album “A Clip Round the Ear.” The album serves as a nostalgic trip to the 60s for those who remember the era as well as serving as a gateway drug for a new generation to discover that sound for themselves. However, Groovy Uncle isn’t just here to re-create songs from the past for the sake of going down memory lane, but rather using the classic sounds and old-school style songwriting as a springboard into new uncharted territories topped off with a shiny polish for contemporary audiences.
Groovy Uncle is the moniker of singer-songwriter, arranger and guitarist Glenn Prangnell who has surrounded himself with a revolver door of talents through previous albums for a surprise with each release. For “A Clip Round the Ear,” Nick Rice (bass), Mole Lambert (drums) and a full cast of other talented musicians fill out the record with the most notable collaboration being that of vocalist Suzi Chunk, whose flavorful delivery on many of the tracks becomes the main attraction against the backdrop of soulful, energetic and sometimes raw songs found on the record.
“Mrs Saywell Says” opens the album with garage rock optimism by incorporating a catchy chorus, clear groove basslines and Beach Boys-styled guitars that combine into a fun pop song dipped into a vat of lyrical quirkiness. Glenn’s inspiration for this track’s lyrics stem from his parent’s tales of a real life infant school teacher called Mrs. Saywell in the 1930s and 40s who used the classroom’s open coal fire to heat up her rear end. This highlights Glenn’s ability of taking peculiar situations and creating a narrative consisting of memorable characters that are easy to latch onto and cleverly bringing the album to life in the process.
The nods to the 60s and 70s as an influence are especially notable on “Our Gary’s No Fool,” which is seemingly a lost Beatles track featuring John Lennon at the helm. Other songs such as “The Moon and Back” evoke memories of The Clash with its sassy, fun, and rocking sound that is perfect for blasting loud from a convertible in the neighborhood to enrage those still sleeping at dawn. The guitar solo completes the energetic tune and it’s a stand-out track off the album.
Other songs such as “I Thought It Was About Time,” “The Scheme of Things” and “I Really Wouldn’t Know How” are softer and offer an introspective Jazzy experience filled with sophistication and candor. These songs would not sound out of place coming out of a diner’s jukebox from the golden era. Suzi really displays her talent here in delivering emotion as well as articulating the meaning behind the songs and her boldness and vitality take Groovy Uncle to the next level.
The upbeat rocker “Oil and Colour Man” dives into an interesting narrative that applies the album’s title in its lyrics. The song takes inspiration from Glenn’s memories of a man back in the day who would sell items such as soap and lipstick around the neighborhood. The story in the lyrics is the definite highlight of the song and the spoken words and laughter by James Worse adds humor and a touch of distinctiveness. Listeners can truly visualize the character in the song, but it’s your decision to either feel pity or sympathize with this zany man.
The rest of the songs on the album are either rocking with the occasional use of horns, or slower-paced with sing-a-long melodies that have clear, purposeful vocals, a tight rhythm section and solid production. “A Clip Round the Ear” is ultimately for those seeking a glimpse into a simpler time through light-hearted snippets about not-so-ordinary people told in catchy songs that will get you off your seat and dancing the night away. All the song are short bursts of energy and accessible for newcomers to the genre. If you’re looking for a classic sound injected with experienced yet always curious talent, look no further than Groovy Uncle’s “A Clip Round the Ear.”