Polite Company “Please Go Wild”

Independent, 2024

Going wild about jangly guitar corker from ex-Mutton Bird.

It’s always interesting how people react to new music and on viewing a couple of videos from this brilliant album, one astute individual wrote, having looked at one of the, – “now more than ever, the world needs jingly- jangly music”. Here, here.

It would be difficult to find someone who more embodies the glorious world of ‘jingly-jangly’ music than the magnificent Alan Gregg. The New Zealand musician, now based in the UK, made a big impression back in the early nineties when he joined The Mutton Birds on bass and wrote one of their finest tracks ‘Come Around’ on their ‘Envy Of Angels’ album in 1996.

Gregg left the band in 1988 and then acted as a producer and studio and touring musician, but burst back onto the music scene, big time, in 2003 with the utterly majestic album ‘Marshmallow’ by his band of the same name. He wrote all the tracks, played most of the instruments on the album and was joined by the likes of Ron Sexsmith and Bic Runga. It was a highly polished, tuneful and masterful album of jangly pop – reminiscent of Lilac Time and The Fountains of Wayne. It also included one of my favourite songs of all time – ‘Come Sunday’.

Not one to bombard the world with music, Gregg has now re-surfaced with a new project – Polite Company – and what a comeback it is. His distinctive neat use of rhyme, his wonderful sense of humour, his knack for writing genuinely memorable tunes all shine in abundance here – and this is a stunner of an album.

Opener ‘Circulation’ is the wittiest song ever written about depression and has the classy guitars to the fore and it’s simply the catchiest song of the year – optimistic, fun and with a chorus you’ll be singing for weeks to come. The video is also a delight, featuring models made by Hey Kids Rock’n’Roll. Gregg says of the song –“As people were coming out of lockdown after Covid, I heard the phrase ‘getting back into circulation’ a lot – the song is also about being fearless and not worrying too much about what other people think.”

Piano and bass open track two ‘No Time Like Tomorrow’ and another incredibly catchy tune develops, with a smattering of brass and hearty hand clapping and a song about the fine art of prevarication. It’s a song you think you’ve known for years and feels like an old friend has returned. Glorious.

Next up is ‘Perfectly Good Explanation’ with some fantastic brass in the opening bars and we settle into another instantly hummable tune – Gregg’s vocals are so strong and the back-up vocals really enhance the feel. The song takes a wonderfully sideways look at the way PR companies and spin doctors attempt to manipulate the public.

Second single ‘Barefoot Billionaire’ was inspired by a story from the business section of a newspaper. Gregg says “Rock stars are generally pretty well-behaved these days, if you want really bad behaviour, read the business pages”. The story was about a young entrepreneur who had created a huge company and then fell spectacularly from grace. “Just before being forced out of the company, which he created, he was photographed on a street in Manhattan – barefoot and talking on his phone – which is where the song came from”. Gentle keyboards open this one – followed by lovely jingly-jangly guitar of the highest order.

Gregg’s inventive sense of humour is to the fore with songs such as ‘Otis Mace Guitar Ace’ and ‘Peculiar Julia’ – and the album was recorded in his North London home studio with guest artists including Sean Read (Dexys), playing brass and percussion.

There isn’t a dud track on this majestic collection of twelve tunes, all so lovingly created it shines. At the time of recording the album, Gregg was listening to a lot of 70’s songwriters like Mike Nesmith and Gilbert O’Sullivan – and you can hear this so much. Gregg says – “In fact, for a while, the working title for the album was The Gilbertweens”.

This is an album to savour for its wit, warmth, songwriting prowess, musicianship and celebrates the vitally important role ‘jingly-jangly’ music is and has had. Too early to suggest contender for album of the year? Absolutely not.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alexander Huskisson

Great write up Paul. Highly recommended.

Graham Kerr

Amazing singles and can’t wait to hear the full album. A shame it’s been so long since Marshmallow but it’s such a welcome addition to my music collection. Hopefully it won’t be another 21 years for the next album