Friday, April 11, 2014

Haircut One Hundred - Paint and Paint (1984)

Released: 1984 (Polydor)
Produced by: Bob Sargeant, John Punter, Mark Dearnley, Haircut One Hundred
Peak on the US Billboard 200: Did not chart, no US release

Side One Side Two
Fish in a Bowl
So Tired
Hidden Years
40-40 Home
High Noon
Too Up, Two Down
Benefit of the Doubt
Prime Time
Where Do You Run To Now?

After recording one of my favorite albums of 1982, lead singer and main songwriter Nick Heyward left Haircut 100 due to personal issues. Percussionist Mark Fox took over lead vocal duties and actually does a good job.  What's really missing on Paint And Paint is Heyward's songwriting gift - there aren't many memorable melodies here, but there's plenty of typical H100 grooves.  Besides letting Heyward go, the band made three additional mistakes: 1) they changed labels from Arista to Polydor, 2) they experimented with different drummers, and 3) they experimented with different producers.  (On the other hand, Heyward stuck with Arista, hired The Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick to produce his exquisite debut solo album, North of a Miracle).

I hadn't heard this, the band's second album, until about 15 years after its release when I picked up a used import vinyl copy on eBay.  I wasn't expecting much, so I wasn't disappointed.  It's no Pelican West, but how could it be?  Truth be told, it's better than I thought it would be with side 2 being much better than side 1.  However, this release tanked commercially in the UK, wasn't released in the US, and the band fell apart.  In 2004, VH1 put the band back together for an episode of their "Bands Reunited" series.

  • Fish in a Bowl:  Starting with familiar H100 guitar and horn licks, you initially can't tell any difference between this album and Pelican West, then the vocals kick in and you can tell a little bit.  But when the disconnected chorus comes around, you know notice a big difference in songwriting.  So even though the verse, chorus, and bridge sound completely unrelated, the groove is good - you can tell Bob Sargeant had his hand in producing this one.
  • Immaterial: Much like the previous track, the verse and chorus don't really seem to go together.  The syncopated groove is a little different for H100, but the chugging guitar part moves things along in a recognizable way.
  • So Tired: the second single released from the album, this peaked at 94 on the UK chart.  It starts off promising, but by the chorus, the whole thing sounds, well, tired.
  • Hidden Years: While there's a tropical feel to this one, it's uninteresting filler with one of the most boring percussion breaks ever recorded.  The horn solos are its only redeeming features.
  • 40-40 Home: Now things finally start cooking.  I've got no idea what they're singing about (a child's game, maybe?), but this thing is as catchy as anything on Pelican West. 
  • High Noon: Another boring, disconnected chorus makes me want to go ahead and flip the record to...

  • Too Up, Two Down: the third single, this one didn't chart and I can't see why not, it's a catchy thing that contains one of the better choruses on the album.  Great arrangement and production (Sargeant again). 
  • Benefit of the Doubt: can a melody be this disjunct and still memorable?  There's an unusual tropical meets ska-lite feel to the whole thing and somehow it works for me.  Go figure.
  • Prime Time:  the lead single, this funk tune peaked at #46 on the UK chart.  Smooth vocals interrupted by jagged horn parts.  It's good - I can see what it was chosen as a single.
  • Where Do You Run To Now?:  a ballad?!?  It actually starts off with a fantastic hook, but after two measures it completely falls apart and the hook is wasted.  I enjoy the soft rock sax solo, though.
  • Infatuation: the album finishes strong with the characteristic H100 pop/soft funk sound.  After an odd introduction, there's lots of things to like about this one: the sax parts, slap bass, the rhythm guitar, there's even some piano here and there.

  1. Too Up, Two Down
  2. Prime Time
  3. 40-40 Home
  4. Infatuation
  5. Immaterial
  6. Benefit of the Doubt
  7. Fish in a Bowl
  8. So Tired
  9. Where Do You Run To Now?
  10. Hidden Years
  11. High Noon

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