Sorry, must be an age thing; there must be others of the same mind that can’t help but think of Take That - “Nevaaaaah forget where you’ve come here from!” Not that the lads from The Young ’Uns could ever be confused with Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams et al, yet strangely enough the sentiment and the lyric feels very appropriate.
Their (The Young ’Uns that is) new album Never Forget follows on from their previous release, When Our Grandfathers Said No, with a collection of songs firmly rooted in the North East - their Stockton locale is plundered aplenty. The unaccompanied harmony singing for which they are known combines with songs which are accompanied by some refined and restrained instrumental arrangements.
The humour of their stage act is reflected in the contrasting pair of songs which bookend the album and take their inspiration from the events involving the EDL’s notorious ’visit’ to a York mosque following the Lee Rigby situation, which was deflected in a very traditional and sensibly English way - the ever so jolly Biscuits And Tea opens the album, yet it’s David Eagle’s version and album closer which takes the bizarre story to a humorous and cleverly written and delivered conclusion.
The ever so slightly risqué music hall style delivery based around the refrain of “The thing that killed the facist in me, was Hassan’s home made biscuits and a lovely cup of tea” is both entertaining and provides a diversion to the gravity of the topic. Were it always that simple.
On the one hand there are songwriting contributions from Graeme Miles and Jez Lowe as The Young ’Uns belt out Jack Ironside and the traditional Blood Red Shoes/Shallow Brown with sheer enthusiasm and gusto. There’s also the self penned material which showcases Sean Cooney’s skills in his developing ability to write reflective and telling lyrics - there’s the tender love song The Long Way Home while Three Sailors and The Sandwell Gate are both based around the town of Hartlepool and it’s connection with the sea.
The theme of remembrance and the call to ’never forget’, apart from being the opening words to the record, is perfectly placed within the Cooney-penned John Hill. An almost hymn like and delicately played and delivered account of personal tragedy of his relative and victim of the First World War. Building slowly to a climax of brass and containing the running theme and returning vocal of ’never forget’, it stands as an outstanding contribution to an exceptional album. Next year’s Folk Awards best original song? Place your bets.
Perhaps Gary Barlow was right all along.Mike Ainscoe
Released 17th March 2014 on Hereteu Records
1. The Biscuits of Bull Lane
2. Jack Ironside
3. The Long Way Home
4. Blood Red Roses/Shallow Brown
6. Hands Feet
8. Three Sailors
9. The Running Fox
10. The Sandwell Gate
11. John Ball
12. John Hill
13. A Lovely Cup of Tea (Bonus)