I was fortunate to get a copy of this album for free and listening to it was like experiencing life in reverse, something akin to Marty McFly going back in time or something from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Why? I’d already enjoyed their second album, In Your Own Time, released in 2010, which quickly became one of my favourite records of the last few years and was now taking steps backwards in the life of the Great St. Louis. The question was, how would their first album match up given my feelings towards IYOT?
At first, I thought that the album was more a collection of half-a-dozen good songs with some filler to pad it out. However, on repeated listens, as with the second album, I realised that I was listening to a band who really knew what they were doing. What becomes apparent is that there is no filler on his record and that the songs really do stand out on their own, as opposed to being there just for the sake of it.
A recent live bootleg of the Great St. Louis shows that five tracks from the first album are being included in the set performed by this band and it’s no surprise that these five songs are the clear high-points of this album. Also, what’s interesting is that these songs are together within the album, whereas many bands put a couple of their better songs upfront--that does not seem to be the case here.
Check out the following tracks when you listen to the album and you will see why they are still included in the live set:
“Summer” has some great sing-along parts that show the strengths of the Great St. Louis in that they play songs that they all can get involved in when they reach the live setting. Now, that can be also said with “Robbie Jones,” a punked-up folk style song, with some Stiff Little Fingers sounding elements to it. “Sink” is apparently a drinking song and is the shortest song on the album--perhaps they were too busy wanting to get some drinks in! The next is the title track to the album and is even more SLF-orientated in its opening, and then comes “One Day,” the penultimate track on the album that just continues the GSL approach of writing some excellent tunes.
These tracks, although the ones that stick out as the better ones, should not detract from what is a very good album and obviously, to me, a stepping stone to what was to follow on with the release of In Your Own Time. I look at it in the same way I view Stiff Little Fingers, my favourite band of all time: I became a fan through Nobody’s Heroes and then moved on to Inflammable Material. I still prefer the second album, perhaps my favourite record of all time, but on hearing their first release it held a special place in my heart/mind (as well as having the inflammable material "logo" tattooed on my leg) but just could never match up to Nobody’s Heroes. So will the Great St. Louis follow in the footsteps of Stiff Little Fingers and become a firm favourite of mine? Well, they are doing their damndest to do so.