"100%" is an album by British rock musician, Ginger Wildheart. It was released in 2012 on Round Records and produced by Willie Dowling. Joining Ginger on the album are 'Random' Jon Poole, Chris Catalyst, Denzel, Fyfe Ewing, Ritch Battersby, Willie Dowling, C.J., Victoria Liedtke and Laila K.
2nd August, 2011. This is the date that was the start of something historic and something which, almost 11 months later, I have in my hands. I'm talking about "555%", the album paid for by fans of Ginger (myself included) and now "100%", the commercial release of 12 songs, specifically chosen from the 3-disc, 30-song "555%" by Pledgers who provided the funds to make it all happen. Of course, this wouldn't have happened at all without Mr. Ginger Wildheart and his many friends of the rock business that played on this album, the people of Pledge Music and the various people in the background that remain nameless but I'm sure they all know who they are.
On that day, Ginger wrote on the Pledge site: "I love music being independent. Always have. The D.I.Y approach has appealed to me since I watched the original punks gatecrash the charts and infuriate the press. But the thing was, they couldn't be stopped because the people were behind their militant stance and the mainstream could only stubbornly hope that they'd just go away. But we never went away. Revolution was born. Of the money you pledge we will also donate 10% to Save The Children. The catch? There is no catch. If this works we will continue to bring you great offers like this. Albums, holidays, exclusive performances and so much more. Believe me this is just the beginning." Over the course of the writing, demoing and recording process, Pledgers were kept up-to-date with everything that went on, but the real history was made when the 100% target was met in just 6 hours. 6 hours! It was capped at 555% and fans around the world awaited the finished product. So without further ado, here's my review of "100%".
The album kicks off with "Forget About It" which comes in with a soft strum that gently helps along Ginger's distinctive vocal sound before the drums and bass join the party along with some heavier power chords. One thing I like about Ginger's music is his incredible knack for harmony, and harmony is what you get on the one-lined chorus here that goes "Once again you forget to remind yourself to just forget about it" - it's one of the many highlights of the song and a great opener for not just the "100%" album, but the "555%" triple CD also.
"I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L-Radio" is a song about the music you can hear inside your head sometimes. Here, Ginger is saying that his internal radio is playing the songs he likes instead of listening to the churned out commercial rubbish that is played day in, day out on mainstream radio stations. Musically, there's a lot going on in the song with time changes galore and I especially like the inclusion of the beginning of the Ramones' classic song from 1980, "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio". The piano is very prominent in the song and it's good to hear Willie Dowling working with Ginger once more.
"Lover, It'll All Work Out" begins with a Japanese-style sound that continues when the main guitar riff kicks in and ends with the first verse. Ginger has always been a fan of everything Japanese and it's no surprise that the cultural influence of the country would find its way into his music sooner or later. It's a softer-edged song but also has plenty of heavy tones, especially in the very catchy chorus that you won't be able to resist singing along to. This is one of those songs that you think doesn't quite work on the first listen, but it definitely gets better with each subsequent play.
"You're the One, You're the One, Yeah, I Know You're the One, You're the One (Yeah, I Know You're the One)" is proof that you don't need to have a one-word song title to have a good song and this is by far and large a very good song. On this, Ginger is saying that even though he's up to his eyeballs in beautiful women as far as he can see, there is only one woman for him. This song is more in line with what the Wildhearts (Ginger's band) would record and I envisage the man playing this one live for many years to come. It's very boppy and the la-la-la singing of the bridge will have future audiences doing that before an encore, I would imagine.
"It Appears That the Party is Over" is one of those songs that I didn't particularly warm to when I first heard it. As a Pledger for "555%", I was able to listen to all 30 songs over 3 weeks and cast my vote of which 10 should appear on the commercial release, and this wasn't in my list. I'm not saying it's a bad song because it clearly isn't - but I did think there were a few others of the 18 which missed out that were better. I'm not reviewing "555%", though, so let's move on! Musically, I don't think the song is meant to be taken very seriously and the vocals have a slight distortion to them, like Ginger did on the Wildhearts' "Endless Nameless" album.
"Taste Aversion" begins with tones not unlike Ginger's masterpiece song about his first son which was named after him, "Jake", as his soft vocals are accompanied by Willie Dowling's slowly played piano. It's a clever song that uses intricate time changes and different heavy metal genres are represented in the bridge, ranging from death metal to a bit of glam and traditional rock. This is a song I'm really confused with. I like it but at the same time I'm completely baffled with it. But that's Ginger for you - you either love his music or you just don't get it!
"Another Spinning F**king Rainbow" is the best song on the album, no question about it. It has throwbacks to 70s disco in the opening notes but the chorus is wonderful and typical Ginger harmony that sounds a little like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Midnight Special" and its chorus, but only for a slight moment. I also love the gang vocals backing up Ginger's singing and also interacting with it. It's difficult to imagine where Ginger gets his song ideas from but his head must be a wonderful place to be to come up with a title like this.
"Just Another Song About Someone" starts out with something familiar to fans of the Wildhearts as the soft riff sounds a bit like the opening of "Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong", which was a song on the CD single of "I Wanna Go Where the People Go". It's on this song more than any other off the album where Ginger's song writing hits the spotlight, with a song that tells the tale of two people who meet for the first time, get to know each other, and just when he thinks it's getting serious she moves on to somebody new, so he writes a song that hits back at her. This is another gem in Ginger's treasure chest of great songs.
"Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)" is a funky sounding song with soft distortion on the female vocals that duet with Ginger's main singing and an interesting Afrikaan chant during the bridge that brings the song alive. I especially like the heavy riffing at the end of the song but to be honest, everything about the song is happy and cheerful. It's a song about making a decision about changing your life for the better and sticking with the plan. As the lyrics go, " Every minute that you waste is a minute that you won't get back" - which is very true to life.
As soon as "Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled" comes on, I can't help but think the harmony is like the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", but that quickly goes away when the chorus stomps in with a fantastic chorus that can't help but rock the socks off you. It's an extremely catchy song and definitely one of the highlights of the album that I'm sure I will keep coming back to when I want a new playlist for my iPod. Make no mistake, this is some of Ginger's best work.
When "We've Been Expecting You" starts, I think I've gone back in time to the 1960s as there's a lot of early pop/rock roots in the song. It almost reminds me of Spinal Tap's "Listen to the Flower People" and it doesn't quite do enough to grab my attention yet - having said that, I am listening to all 30 songs off of "555%" as I review the commercial version of 12 "100%" songs. It has a great melody but for me it's lacking in something, and I do not know what that something is.
"Time" completes the album with, at over 7 minutes in length, the longest song on "100%". It begins with a familiar sound of the bells of the newly named Elizabeth Tower than holds the bell of Big Ben. It's an epic song of clever softly picked riffs and acoustic guitars but most of all it's Ginger's ability to go off in a completely different direction which steal the show once more. Just when you think you've got used to the song, it changes pace; 'time' if you like.
In summary, this album is a big shot in the arm for all independent record labels and artists. Ginger created this album with the help of his fan base, so essentially it's for Ginger by the fans... and it's also the exact opposite of that. So there you have it. I'm proud to say I had a hand in creating this album with the Pledge I made as are many other Ginger Wildheart fans out there. Keeping the music business real is an excellent way to write, record and buy new stuff from your favourite independent artists.
1. Forget About It
3. Lover, It'll All Work Out
4. You're the One, You're the One, Yeah, I Know You're the One, You're the One (Yeah, I Know You're the One)
5. It Appears That the Party is Over
6. Taste Aversion
7. Another Spinning F**king Rainbow
8. Just Another Song About Someone
9. Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)
10. Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled
11. We've Been Expecting You
My rating: 9/10