Hugh Cornwell gets reviewed and talks You’re Covered, influences and industry changes

Hugh Cornwell, the original frontman of The Stranglers, is about to embark on a spring tour of the UK where, due to popular request, he will be performing his album Guilty in its entirety. Hugh will also be performing old favorites like ‘The Raven,’Schoolman,’ ’Down in the Sewer,’ ‘Toiler on the Sea,’ ‘Walk on By’ and ‘’Feel Like a XXX‘ each evening.

Hugh has recorded an exclusive ten-track album comprising of tunes which have stayed with him over the years and just pop into his head on occasion, just like good favorite tunes do. This album is called You’re Covered and only 250 copies are available. These will be given to VIP ticket holders, which will also be able to watch and interact with Hugh during the sound check, and each copy of You’re Covered will also be signed on the night by Hugh.

There is another bonus for fans, as Hugh will perform Fan Choice Encores, which can be voted for here . The five songs with the most votes will end the evening.

Personally, I have been a fan of The Stranglers and Hugh since the mid/late 70s. I have seen them play live on many occasions, in a variety of venues, up to the tour that coincided with the release of the La Folie album. Although this album saw the band move into sophisticated pop and was very pleasing, it failed to excite and please me in the same way as the earlier albums. Due to this, I have been a little skeptical about Hugh’s solo releases.

I have recently been able to give New Songs for Hong Kong, a double live album recorded in 2009, a listen. Disc 1 is the entire Hooverdam album live. It is a very pleasing album to listen to and is very a la Hugh. Disc 2 is the whole Rattus Norvegicus album, originally by The Stranglers, performed live by Hugh and his band. This is also a very pleasing album. I have mixed feelings over this, as I have played the original Rattus Norvegicus so much and love it dearly. Some albums just stay close to your heart and this always will be. This version by Hugh is very faithful and although it does lose a little of the edge and attitude of the original, it compensates for this by adding Hugh’s richness and warmth, without losing too much of his much loved acerbic style.

Any fan of Hugh will enjoy New Songs For Hong Kong and it is worth 7 / 10 with ease.

I had a little chat with Hugh recently on behalf of The Rock and Roll Report.

Q: Could you talk a little about why the tracks on You’re Covered have stayed with you so well?

A: They’re just all good songs, which I am always interested in.

Q: Is the You’re Covered release just a marketing strategy to gain added revenue from the tour?

A: I thought that a limited edition CD would be of more interest to fans than just a t-shirt, which a lot of bands give to VIP ticket holders.

Q:  I have always been a big fan of your Nosferatu album. As Captain Beefheart’s Robert Williams also works with you on the album Wired, are there many similarities?

A: That’s up to you to decide, of course, but Robert only played drums on a few of the Wired tracks.

Q: What can you tell our readers about your other releases and what they have to offer? What influenced them and the musicians who appeared on them?

A: To answer that question fully would take a lot more time than we have here, but suffice to say that all my recordings will, I hope, take an interested listener on a sonic journey. They may also be able to play ‘spot the influence.’

Q: As you must have seen and experienced the vast changes in the music industry over the decades, what have been the pros and cons of these changes, from your point of view?

A: As records now promote tours rather than the other way round, it has meant that bands must perform live, which I like the dynamic of, as it allows a band or artist to develop their skills in front of an audience and reminds them that they do exist.

Q: Do you have any advice for bands and artists starting out?

A: My only advice would be to only do what you’re comfortable with, whatever anyone tells you, and to remember it can all disappear rapidly.

Hugh Cornwell’s UK tour kicks off on April 6th at the Portsmouth South Parade Pier, followed by dates at Gateshead Sage (April 7), Manchester Academy (April 8), Glasgow Academy (April 9), Sheffield Academy (April 10), Clitheroe The Grand (April 12), Leamington Assembly (April 13), Bath Komedia (April 14), Wolverhampton Slade Rooms (April 15), Islington Academy (April 16), and Brighton Komedia (April 17).

For more info on Hugh: www.hughcornwell.com