Pete Astor “Tall Stories & New Religions”

Tapete Records 2024

Re-examining a career of masterful songs from prolific tunesmith.

When you’ve got a career as extensive and eclectic as Pete Astor, one can’t help but become reflective when one celebrates 40 years of making records. That’s exactly the anniversary that ex-Weather Prophets, The Loft, The Wisdom of Harry and solo artist Astor celebrated this year. He’s taking stock of a wonderful career making seriously important music – he was the leader of The Loft, that was one of the first signings to Alan McGee’s Creation Records.

So with this new album, he’s re-interpreting songs he’s chosen often for simply esoteric reasons – he likens this task as what it’s like to linger over a resonant picture from an old box of photos, connecting with a younger self. And what a magnificent job he’s done.

Astor always had a knack of writing memorable, tuneful songs with sometimes strident and really clever lyrics. His career highlight of The Weather Prophets’ ‘Almost Prayed‘ in 1986 was one of the best indie tracks of the eighties.

So for this album he’s surrounded himself with a highly impressive selection of musicians – drummer Ian Button, (Death in Vegas, Papernut Cambridge, Go Kart Mozart), bassist Andy Lewis (Paul Weller, Soho Radio and Blow Up DJ), guitarist Wilson Neil Scott (Summerhill, Felt, Everything But the Girl) and keyboardist/ multi-instrumentalist/ producer Sean Read (Dexys, Mark Lanegan, Dave Gahan, Iggy Pop, Manic Street Preachers, Beth Orton, Chrissie Hynde).

We open with ‘Model Village‘ – the overt guitar jangling of the original The Loft song has been replaced with some glorious acoustic strumming and lovely piano work and reminds you how great a songwriter Astor was/is. The accompanying background vocals just add to the sumptuous feel that the song now has.

A lovely fuzzy guitar sound imbues ‘Chinese Cadillac‘ with a spooky feel for a song that was originally a ‘b’ side on a Weather Prophets release and Astor wanted to do true justice to the song that was almost lost on its original release.

She Comes The Rain’ has been given a wonderful musical facelift, with the addition of electric guitar to the gorgeous tune and expanded the vocals for the chorus. When it first came out the song’s first-week chart position was higher than the then new Elton John single, which Astor admits felt odd at the time. He wanted to give the song a bit more swing – and it’s just fantastic and almost betters the original.

Nancy True Knot‘ is a re-working of a re-working that Astor made on an album of new versions of folk standards, which he felt didn’t do true justice to the song – and this revised version is another superb rendition. There’s a Calexico feel to many of these songs with the guitar work and production sound – and it so works.

Emblem’ was a song Astor was very proud of when it was first recorded, but it managed to get a little lost on the album ‘Submarine’ it was included on. At a recent solo gig, an audience member requested Astor play it and after the gig he said to Astor that the song had had a massive life-changing effect on him, making a profound connection. Astor felt it was high time to readdress the song on this new album and it’s wonderful – a laid-back shuffle beautifully played.

This really is a strong album – superb songs given a masterful re-imagining and it just wants the listener to dig out Astor’s historic recordings, to remind one of what an important musician he is, resolutely fantastic in so many ways.


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