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"Don't be Happy... Just Worry" is a mini-album released in 1992 by British rock band, the Wildhearts. The line-up was Ginger (vocals/guitar), C.J. (guitar), Danny McCormack (bass) and Bam (drums).
While this is not an official Wildhearts album, it's still the first big release by the band, and a lot of the songs on this issue were played live in many gigs. The band comprised of Ginger (one time member of the Quireboys), C.J. (once of the Tattooed Love Boys), Danny McCormack who was a rookie in the music business, and Bam (former Dogs D'Amour drummer).
We begin with "Turning American", which fades in at a slow rate leading up to some crunchy guitars and grinding bass. Don't be fooled, however, this is no death metal band. The Wildhearts are one of the finest rock bands to come out of England in forever, though. The song is about how some British bands in particular sell out when money is thrown at them, going commercial and turning their backs on the country and fans that made them. The first bridge on the song is amazing, leading up to harmonious vocals and the lyrics are cleverly written by Ginger. This was the first song I ever heard from the band and it instantly hooked me in.
"Crying Over Nothing" is a happy-go-lucky song with a sort of serious side to it, although the Wildhearts don't show it in the music. It's a song about how one's emotions get the better of you but you really shouldn't let trivial things affect your way of life. The chorus and bridge after it have some strange lyrics but they somehow work:
"It's all right, so why care?
If you bleed for the light, I will follow you there
'Cos there's a sun kissed cloud over raindog holiday"
Ginger has always had the uncanny knack of fitting in lyrics which don't really mean anything but making them sound important. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and I always enjoyed hearing it live.
"Nothing Ever Changes (But the Shoes)" is up next, and for a while in the early 90s this was the opening song on many a Wildhearts show. It's got a pop/rock groove to it and is catchy from start to finish, especially the chorus. Ginger is basically going back to his youth and the wrong advice he got from various people would always be the same, hence the title. He's also saying that you can try all you like to make something of your life, but they'll always put you in your place and will never admit to being wrong.
"Liberty Cap" is a song about hallucinogens and the feelings you get from taking them, especially mushrooms. I'm not going to condone the use of drugs in any way, but the song is incredible and easily the best on the whole album. It begins with Danny's bass playing in with light drums before hitting like a hammer with a stonking riff. The chorus is equally sung between Ginger, C.J. and Danny in harmony, which suggests all three had their fair share of mushrooms back in the day.
Ginger has a love for B-Movies and horror films in general, and in "Splattermania" he pays homage to the genre in the only way he knows how - by telling the listener that it's not real, there's nothing to fear, and you won't be eaten by brain munching zombies, so just enjoy what you're watching. The chorus is brilliantly catchy and the main bridge is full of punchy guitars. This is a song I always looked forward to hearing when the band played live.
"Something Weird (Going on in My Head)" is a song which sounds like it was recorded in one take. The production isn't brilliant but you can feel the unity that the band had back then, which hasn't always been the case in the history of the Wildhearts - every one of the band members has been fired by Ginger over the years and only C.J. returned - but back to the song; it rocks with some funky guitar work and happy smiling vocals. This is the one song on the album where you know the Wildhearts are having fun, and the ending chant of "Something weird" over and over was often drawn out live to a few minutes in length.
"Weekend (5 Long Days)" is a song about the same old boring life people lead Monday to Friday and how they can't wait for the weekend when they can let their hair down, have a few drinks and party. The lyrics are basically going through the days, getting out of bed, having breakfast, going to work and clock watching until that magical time on Friday. I've been saying for a long time now that Ginger's a musical genius, and the riffs, the lyrics and the song structure here is nothing short of incredible.
"Dreaming in a..." is another song about the use of recreational drugs but wow, what a song! It's heart-felt and could almost be a love song if it wasn't so obviously about being high. Or maybe it is a love song, but in all the wrong ways, who knows. What I do know, though, is that this is a really good track which is beautifully played by all members in the band, and leaves you wanting more.
In summary, this is one album you need to hear. The lyrics are brilliantly written, the songs are strong and there are riffs galore. What you get with the Wildhearts is a bit of everything, ranging from soft pop rock to fast and aggressive heavy metal, and I have often wondered why (and how) Ginger has not become hugely successful in the music business. Don't just take my word for it - give it a listen for yourself. You'll not regret it!
1. Turning American
2. Crying Over Nothing
3. Nothing Ever Changes (But the Shoes)
4. Liberty Cap
6. Something Weird (Going on in My Head)
7. Weekend (5 Long Days)
8. Dreaming in a...
My rating: 9/10
Even though the Wildhearts have been pushing the boundries of rock music for over fifteen years now, they still remain one of the best loved unknown bands of the underground circuit. Able to sell out the countries largest theatres and venues in a day, but still unheard of by the majority of the record buying public, but its a situation that the band probably relish, to them its the best of both worlds.
The main man behind the band, Ginger payed his dues in a string of also rans, The Letters, Peter Panics, The Avengers and Englands answer to the New York Dolls, Zig-Zag, but it was as guitarist with The Quireboys that he finally reached the public eye. However after being sacked from the Sharon Osbourne managed band in 1989, he appeared briefly in American sleaze band The Throbs, but by August of that year the embryonic form of the Wildhearts was launched on an unsuspecting public. The line up settled down and with ex Dogs D`Amour drummer, Bam, and Tattoed Love Boys guitarist C.J. on board the band toured with a host of bigger bands including a young Manic Street Preachers. Dont Be Happy...Just Worry contains the songs originally released as the early E.Ps from these formative years, so what was all the fuss about.
Turning American opens up like a straight forward and fairly unimaginative metal track, grinding guitars drive a rythmn to the point of distortion and the drums pound relentlessly, but just when you think youve wasted your money the melody flips and a pop/metal hybrid of a tune pulls into view. The overdriven guitars combine pure melodies with a heavy attack, the vocals jump between stabbing staccato shouts, standard rock and rap sections, and all the time the guitars twist from one genre to another. This is no, verse, chorus, verse, chorus..etc format, the Wildhearts seem to write more changes of melody and pace in one song than most bands manage to think of in a whole album.
Crying Over Nothing again lulls you into a false sense of security wandering around elusivly between different rock camps with some fantastic lead riffs and full bodied vocal parts.
A change of direction on Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes takes us almost into the realms of the early Manic Street Preachers, a band that they supported on many occasion in the early days, and here you are exposed to the pop melody being played by a heavy rock band. Again the melody and direction of the song is as fluid as ever, rock guitars are still to the fore and the infectious sing along, dance along choruses are a joy.
A dark bass line pulls Liberty Cap out of nowhere, fuzzy guitars and crashing symbols build this slow groove until the lead riff powers in. The song moves between a slow gentle wander and a punchy bouncy rap. The highlight song for me is Splattermania, a tongue in cheek look at horror movies, probably the most straight forward rock number on the album, but try not to leap around the room when its playing, go on, tennis rackets for air guitars and the broom handle for a mic stand, you`ll be hooked I can assure you.
Something Weird is different again and highlights the bands ability to sound totally different from track to track and still sound like the Wildhearts, a sound that they have made all there own, this hybrid of styles. Gingers alcohol cracked voice starts Weekend, a single guitar backing him until the rest of the band pile in behind him, to deliver a song of pure rock power and more melody and bounc than you will ever need from one song. This is the song you should play as you start your weekend, thats the message in the song and it certainly will have you pogoing down the street on a Friday night.
The album closes with Dreaming In A, a slower and more reflective number with big guitars, powerful vocal lines.
What the Wildhearts do on this album, and managed to keep on doing even to this day, is combine the pop melody with the power and passion of rock. If you think bands like Busted and McFly are innovative for mixing the two genres, then you should check out a band that were doing it bigger, better and with more conviction when those guys were still in grey flannel shorts. The ability to take a range of musical styles and sew them together into their own Frankensteins monster is what sets this band apart from mere mortals and I urge you to check out this album, which by now is normally being sold ata a very reasonable price in the music shops.
Imaginative, Innovative and Intelligent are just three words beginning with I that sum up this band, they deserve to be massive, help them achieve their goal and be rewarded with some quality music into the bargain.
this was the first wildhearts album i ever bought, and fell in love with them immediately. thsi mini album is bassically the first 2 ep's on one c.d. Lets be honest, the song writting is brilliant. Unfortunately, the production is crap. I've just seen the recently reformed Wildhearts play these songs live and 2000 people a show went mental. this stuff still sounds fresh. The best way to listen to this album is through headphones, cos at least that way you get to hear some of the fabulous octave guitar lines that seems to have been burried 6 feet under in the mix. I'm being a bit harsh, mainly because everything since this has been of such a high standard. Ginegr is a songwritting genius. this man shows us all how the rock like it's the last night on earth, and he seems to be one of only a handfull of people in Britain doing this kind of thing. Get it enjoy it and rock out. this is a gem.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes
2 Crying Over Nothing
3 Turning American
5 Liberty Cap
6 Dreaming In A
7 Weekend (5 Long Days)
8 Something Weird Going On In My Head