Wreckless Eric


Band members                             Related acts

- Wreckless Eric (Eric Goulden) -- vocals, guitar

 

  supporting musicians (1980)

- John Brown -- bass

- Pete Golsing -- guitar

- Walter Hacon -- guitar

- Dave Otway -- drums, percussion

 

 

 

- Captains of Industry

- The Len Bright Combo

- Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby

- Eric Goulden (solo efforts)

- The Hitsville House Band

- Southern Domestic

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Whole WIde World

Company: Stiff

Catalog: USE 1
Year:
 1979

Country/State: Newhaven, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1172

Price: $15.00

 

In retrospect there was simply no way that an act like Wreckless Eric was going to carve out an American audience.  It wasn't that Eric Gouldman lacked talent ...  rather the guy had a voice that sounded like sandpaper; sang with a thick cockney accent, and was just too English and too eclectic for an American audience that was hard pressed to accept considerably more mainstream UK acts like Elvis Costello, or Nick Lowe.   Against that backdrop you simply had to wonder what Eric's record label Stiff was thinking when they cobbled together 1979's "The Whole Wide World".  

 

A 13 track compilation of material off his first two English LPs ("Wreckless Eric" and :The Wonderful World of Wreckless Eric") and assorted early singles:

 

- 1976's 'Take the Cash (K.A.S.H.)' b/w 'Girlfriend' (Stiff catalog number BUY 34)

- 1977's 'Whole Wide World' b/w 'Semaphore Signals' (Stiff catalog number BUY 16)

- 1978's ''Reconnez Cherie' b/w 'Rags and Tatters' (Stiff catalog BUY 25)

- 1978's 'Hit and Miss Judy' b/w 'Let's Go to the Pictures' (Stiff BUY 49)

 

This isn't going to be to everyone's taste, but if you enjoyed Elvis Costello, Ian Drury, Nick Lowe, and that crowd of late-'70s English acts, it would definitely be worth checking out.

 

"Whole Wide World" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) (I'd Go The) Whole Wide World   (Eric Goulden) - 3:18

Exhibited a charming mix of low-tech production (I think I could handle the drums), a slightly ominous edge, and some keen pop instincts, '(I'd Go the) Whole Wide World' remains one of Eric's creative Zeniths.  Easy to see why it was tapped as his debut single.  (The Proclaimers do a killer cover version of the song.)   Courtesy of YouTube here's a link to a television performance of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSjwl8lHEVE   rating; **** stars   

2.) Taking the Cash (K.A.S.H)   (Eric Goulden) - 2:42

Opening up with some wonderful jangle guitars and one of Eric's patented snarling vocals, 'Taking the Cash (K.A.S.H)' served as Eric's third single.  Sporting a jumpy and immediately infectious melody, this one also had advice that was hard to beat.   rating; **** stars

3.) Let's Go To the Pictures   (Eric Goulden) - 3:30

'Let's Go To the Pictures' was originally the 'B' side to his fourth single 'Hit n Miss Judy'.  A great slice of jittery pop with a near perfect hook, I actually like it better than the 'A' side.     rating; *** stars

4.) Walking On the Surface of the Moon   (Eric Goulden) - 4:00

Walking On the Surface of the Moon' was a fantastic song that would have been a lot better had Eric decided not to employee his heavy Cockney voice.   The cheesy late-'70s atari-styled synthesizer burps and belches always make me laugh.      rating; *** stars  

5.) Hit and Miss Judy   (Eric Goulden) - 2:26

Released as Eric's fourth single, 'Hit and Miss Judy' was easily the most commercial thing he'd done up to that point.  To my ears the song always sounded like a slightly nasal version of Nick Lowe.  Hard to believe the song didn't attract attention in the States.  It certainly would have, had anyone actually heard it over here.    rating: ***** stars

6.) I Wish It Would Rain   (Eric Goulden) - 2:27

Originally released as a 'B' side on Eric's third single 'Crying Waiting Hoping', 'I Wish It Would Rain' was one of the first release to show Eric was more than a drunken novelty act.   Yeah, judging by the lyrics, I'd say he had more than his share of issues ...   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Reconnez Cherrie   (Eric Goulden) - 3:03

 His fourth single - Hum, Eric singing in French ...  well I'll be damned but 'Reconnez Cherrie' was a simply charming pop song.  Guess that might explain why he spent the next decade living in obscurity in a French village trying to clean up a host of personal problems.      rating: *** stars

2.) Veronica   (Eric Goulden) - 2:35

Like most Eric songs, musically there wasn't a great deal to 'Veronica'; basically Eric snarling his way through a very 'English' set of lyrics (military guy longing for a woman before he heads off to war), though this one at least boasted a pretty guitar solo (clearly not by Eric).     rating: ** stars

3.) Brain Thieves   (Eric Goulden) - 3:58

'Brain Thieves' didn't sound like your typical Eric song. His usually bubbly, don't give-a-crap buoyancy was replaced by a dark and ominous vibe that was only underscored by some equally disturbing sax.  Yeah, he may have had some personal issues going on there ...    rating: ** stars

4.) Semaphore Signals   (Eric Goulden) - 3:00

One of the scariest 'love' songs you've ever heard, 'Semaphore Signals' was the kind of song that sent the parents of daughters running for their shotguns ...  can you imagine this drunken lout coming after your little girl ?   I believe this was originally released as the 'B' side to his debut single '(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World'.

5.) I Need a Situation   (Eric Goulden) - 3:12

Upbeat and far more pop-oriented, 'I Need a Situation' was another track with a Nick Lowe influence and a great refrain.  One of my favorite performances and I think Eric still plays it in his live repertoire.    rating: **** stars

6.) The Final Taxi   (Eric Goulden) - 4:30

Eric as the sensitive singer/songwriter ?  Nah, 'The Final Taxi' (think funeral hearse) actually showcased his quirky, English sense of humor (back to the Nick Lowe comparison).  Personally I thought Eric's reflections about death to be kind of funny with the bleating female backing singers adding a nice edge to the song.   rating: **** star

7.) There Isn't Anything Else   (Eric Goulden) - 2:43
I'm sure it was just a coincidence, but the dark and introspective 'There Isn't Anything Else' proved to be a very appropriate way to end the album.  As mentioned, Stiff did little to promote the LP and a frustrated Eric essentially retired from the industry, heading off to France where he spent much of the next decade fighting alcoholism and various other personal problems.   

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Big Smash !

Company: Stiff/Epic

Catalog: E2 36463
Year:
 1980

Country/State: Newhaven, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6061

Price: SOLD $20.00

 

From a marketing standpoint 1980's "Big Smash !" was a major curiosity. Given that up to that point Wreckless Eric had enjoyed minimal success in the States, the fact Stiff was willing to release another one of his albums domestically, let alone the label was willing to issue a double album set, didn't make a great deal of business sense. About all I can come up with was Stiff hoped to capitalize on Nick Lowe's unexpected domestic success.  A 25 track, double album, the set featured an album of new studio material, couple with the previously released 1979 compilation "The Whole Wide World".  That compilation was essentially a 'best of'' set pulling earlier singles and material from his first two UK albums - 1978's "Wreckless Eric" and "The Wonderful World of Wreckless Eric". 

 

"The Whole Wide World" Stiff catalog number USE 1

 

 Given few Americans had heard any of the earlier albums, I guess it made some sort of sense, though the fact Stiff's promotional support for the collection was virtually non-existent left you to wonder what the point was.  Musically most of the new material was miles away from his earlier releases, with tracks like the biting 'A Pop Song', 'Too Busy', and 'Broken Doll' showcasing a surprisingly polished and commercial sound that recalled a tougher version of Nick Lowe. A pop breakthrough was clearly what Stiff wanted, and that's exactly what Eric gave them, though Stiff apparently didn't have a clue as to what to do with the collection.  It may have also served to leave some of his older fans confused.  Anyone expecting to hear the rawer, out-of-control sounding Eric of the first couple of albums may not have appreciated the new, smoother Eric.  I actually liked the change which went to show that Eric was more than just a drunken poseur with two chords in his repertoire.   These twelve tracks went a long way to showing he was a significant talent.  Unfortunately, personal demons stepped in and basically sidetracked the man for the next decade.

 

"Big Smash !" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) A Pop Song   (Eric Goulden - Pete Gosing) - 3:20

As mentioned earlier, Eric must have been under extreme pressure to come up with a commercial sounding album and the cynical 'A Pop Song' served as a near perfect encapsulation of the situation. As good and snarky as anything Nick Lowe ever did, this one had everything necessary to have been a major radio hit - great melody, hysterical lyrics, simply snarling vocals, and an amazing bass line.   rating: **** stars  Not sure how long it will be up, but YouTube has an old black and white promotional video of the song at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u76_YFFgtC8

2.) Tonight (Is My Night)   (Eric Goulden) - 3:26

Ever wondered what Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes would have sounded like had they been English?  'Tonight (Is My Night)' should give you a good approximation.  Razor sharp rock from an Eric that sounded quite pissed off.   rating: *** stars

3.) Too Busy   (Eric Goulden) - 3:13

Probably one of he most commercial and radio friendly songs released by anyone on the Stiff roster, 'Too Busy' was a near perfect slice of pop.  Eric's growling voice was perfectly matched with a driving melody (great organ solo).  If Nick Lowe could score an American hit, you had to wonder how this was overlooked by radio.   rating: **** stars

4.) Broken Doll   (Eric Goulden) - 3:49

Opening up with glistening jangle guitars, 'Broken Doll' was even better.  A near perfect pop song that would have made Nick Lowe envious, this one had hit written all over it.  Naturally nothing happened.   rating: **** stars

5.) Can I Be Your Hero   (Eric Goulden) - 5:03

Powered by some catchy Farfisa organ, to my ears 'Can I Be Your Hero' sounded like Elvis Costello trying to sound like a pop start.  Can't say I'm a big Costello fan, but this one was pretty good with the nice guitar solo and the da-da-da chorus ultimately winning me over.   rating: *** stars

6.) Backing In My Hometown   (Eric Goulden) - 3:14

'Backing In My Hometown' found Eric going rockabilly.  The song exhibited quite a bit of energy, but I'm simply not a big rockabilly fan so it didn't do all that much for me.  Amazing that a band like Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats could cull an entire career out of this one trick.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) It'll Soon Be the Weekend   (Eric Goulden - Pete Gosing) - 3:26

Well, 'It'll Soon Be the Weekend' had a great guitar solo and and even better chorus, but the rest of the song was rather plain and forgettable.   rating: ** stars

2.) Strange Towns   (Eric Goulden - Pete Gosing) - 3:30

'Strange Towns' opened up with an unexpected jazzy flavor before falling back into a breezy, cockney-tinged narrative.  Who would have ever expected to hear an clarinet (?) on a Wreckless Eric song ...  The weird thing about this one is that it's grown to be one of my favorite performances on the album.   rating: **** stars

3.) Excuse Me   (Eric Goulden  - 3:10

'Excuse Me' ...  Wreckless Eric does Ray Davies and the Kinks ?   Always loved the Latin flavored horns though the lyrics are actually kind of scary.      rating: *** stars

4.) Break My Mind   (J.D. Loudermilk) - 3:16

'Break My Mind' found Eric returning to a rockabilly sound.  Nice chorus, but once again the genre simply didnt make an impression on me.   rating: ** stars

5.) Good Conversation   (Eric Goulden) - 2:32

Other than some nice jangle guitar and a mildly entertaining lyric 'Good Conversation' didn't have a great deal going for it.     rating: ** stars

6.) Out of the Blue   (Eric Goulden - Pete Gosing) - 3:01

'Out of the Blue' displayed an intriguing combination of Eric's snarling vocal and a bouncy melody.  One of the album's better tracks.

7.) A Pop Song   (Eric Goulden - Pete Gosing) - 1:10

It wasn't shown on the track listing, but side two ended with a brief, rougher, reprise of  'A Pop Song'.       rating: **** stars

 

(side 3)
1.) (I'd Go The) Whole Wide World   (Eric Goulden) - 3:18

Exhibited a charming mix of low-tech production (I think I could handle the drums), a slightly ominous edge, and some keen pop instincts, '(I'd Go the) Whole Wide World' remains one of Eric's creative Zeniths.  Easy to see why it was tapped as his debut single.  (The Proclaimers do a killer cover version of the song.)   rating; **** stars   Courtesy of YouTube here's a link to a television performance of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSjwl8lHEVE

2.) Taking the Cash (K.A.S.H)   (Eric Goulden) - 2:42

Opening up with some wonderful jangle guitars and one of Eric's patented snarling vocals, 'Taking the Cash (K.A.S.H)' served as Eric's third single.  Sporting a jumpy and immediately infectious melody, this one also had advice that was hard to beat.   rating; **** stars

3.) Let's Go To the Pictures   (Eric Goulden) - 3:30

'Let's Go To the Pictures' was originally the 'B' side to his fourth single 'Hit n Miss Judy'.  A great slice of jittery pop with a near perfect hook, I actually like it better than the 'A' side.     rating; *** stars

4.) Walking On the Surface of the Moon   (Eric Goulden) - 4:00

Walking On the Surface of the Moon' was a fantastic song that would have been a lot better had Eric decided not to employee his heavy Cockney voice.   The cheesy late-'70s atari-styled synthesizer burps and belches always make me laugh.      rating; *** stars  

5.) Hit and Miss Judy   (Eric Goulden) - 2:26

Released as Eric's fourth single, 'Hit and Miss Judy' was easily the most commercial thing he'd done up to that point.  To my ears the song always sounded like a slightly nasal version of Nick Lowe.  Hard to believe the song didn't attract attention in the States.  It certainly would have, had anyone actually heard it over here.    rating: ***** stars

6.) I Wish It Would Rain   (Eric Goulden) - 2:27

Originally released as a 'B' side on Eric's third single 'Crying Waiting Hoping', 'I Wish It Would Rain' was one of the first release to show Eric was more than a drunken novelty act.   Yeah, judging by the lyrics, I'd say he had more than his share of issues ...   rating: *** stars

 

(side 4)
1.) Reconnez Cherrie   (Eric Goulden) - 3:03

 His fourth single - Hum, Eric singing in French ...  well I'll be damned but 'Reconnez Cherrie' was a simply charming pop song.  Guess that might explain why he spent the next decade living in obscurity in a French village trying to clean up a host of personal problems.      rating: *** stars

2.) Veronica   (Eric Goulden) - 2:35

Like most Eric songs, musically there wasn't a great deal to 'Veronica'; basically Eric snarling his way through a very 'English' set of lyrics (military guy longing for a woman before he heads off to war), though this one at least boasted a pretty guitar solo (clearly not by Eric).     rating: ** stars

3.) Brain Thieves   (Eric Goulden) - 3:58

'Brain Thieves' didn't sound like your typical Eric song. His usually bubbly, don't give-a-crap buoyancy was replaced by a dark and ominous vibe that was only underscored by some equally disturbing sax.  Yeah, he may have had some personal issues going on there ...    rating: ** stars

4.) Semaphore Signals   (Eric Goulden) - 3:00

One of the scariest 'love' songs you've ever heard, 'Semaphore Signals' was the kind of song that sent the parents of daughters running for their shotguns ...  can you imagine this drunken lout coming after your little girl ?   I believe this was originally released as the 'B' side to his debut single '(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World'.

5.) I Need a Situation   (Eric Goulden) - 3:12

Upbeat and far more pop-oriented, 'I Need a Situation' was another track with a Nick Lowe influence and a great refrain.  One of my favorite performances and I think Eric still plays it in his live repertoire.    rating: **** stars

6.) The Final Taxi   (Eric Goulden) - 4:30

Eric as the sensitive singer/songwriter ?  Nah, 'The Final Taxi' (think funeral hearse) actually showcased his quirky, English sense of humor (back to the Nick Lowe comparison).  Personally I thought Eric's reflections about death to be kind of funny with the bleating female backing singers adding a nice edge to the song.   rating: **** star

7.) There Isn't Anything Else   (Eric Goulden) - 2:43
I'm sure it was just a coincidence, but the dark and introspective 'There Isn't Anything Else' proved to be a very appropriate way to end the album.  As mentioned, Stiff did little to promote the LP and a disconsolet Eric essentially retired from the industry, heading off to France where he spent much of the next decade fighting alcoholism and various other personal problems.   

 

In the UK a pair of singles were released, but showing a complete lack of interest in marketing Eric to an American audience, nothing was release Stateside:

 

- 1980's 'A Pop Song' b/w 'Reconnez Cherie' (Stiff catalog number BUY 64)

- 1980's 'Broken Doll' b/w 'I Need a Situation' (Stiff catalog number BUY IT 75)

 

 

 

 

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