It's happened! The new Rockingbirds album is out - a mere 17 year wait for fans of the band. Truth be told, most fans probably never thought there would be another Rockingbirds album. It is impossible for me to overstate what an influence this band has had on me. Since first hearing them in 1992, when they were on the cusp of releasing their seminal debut, I’ve probably played their music more than any other artist. Aside from the acknowledged greats, they were the first ‘real’ country band I got into. Namechecking Gram Parsons and covering John Hartford, they were a signpost to so much great music. Their first (self-titled) album remains an essential purchase for any self-respecting country/rock fan - from the UK or anywhere else.
For a moment they were the darlings of the music press and made it onto 'Top Of The Pops' and 'Later...' (they even made a charity single!). Then after a second (almost as wonderful) album, they split. Alan Tyler continued writing an performing under his own name (and with The Lost Sons Of Littlefield, also a great band, whose two albums are also recommended) and other members went on to perform with the likes of Edwyn Collins and Manic Street Preachers.
And then, after almost 20 years, they were back! Reunion gigs had me travelling the country to get my fix while I could – I daren’t imagine they would be together for long, let alone record an album.
They did, though, and it’s out today (25th February) on Loose. It almost picks up where 'Whatever Happened To..." left off in 1996. Alan Tyler has lost none of his laconic lyrical wit: "Til Something Better Comes Along" and "Brand New Plan" both being perfect examples of how to shrug at the world seemingly passing you by. They - and many of the other songs - also happen to be as good as anything he's written.
The Return Of The Rockingbirds is the name of the album: understated as ever. Guess it’s up to the rest of us to give them the fanfare. Buy this record - it's only SEVEN quid from the label! For a limited time, Loose have also been kind enough to make a Soundcloud stream of the entire album available. Find it here:
The Rockingbirds - 'The Return Of The Rockingbirds' by Loose Music
Gilded Palace Radio Show: Feb 25th - March 11th 2013