Columbia 88697003182 / 88697003187 / 88697005437: 25th September 2006
1. An English Gentleman
“Now we’re walking down your street again, with our sleeping bags and our plans, and it feels like we’re never going home”
2. Days Slip Away
“It feels so strange, and as time flashes through you, until you think you’re betrayed, as the days slip away”
3. Summer Wind
“And guess who sighs his lullabies, through nights that never end, my fickle friend, the summer wind”
4. Victory & Defeat On The Kendon Hill
“I’m swallowing flies and thick lead petrol, you can only beat yourself they say”
5. Silver Birch Bonfire Blues
“So these people, petrol and broken dreams, are all that stand between you and me”
‘An English Gentleman’ is a tribute to Manic Street Preachers’ late publicist/manager Phillip Hall. Such was his belief in them that he invited the Manics to stay rent free in his house in London to get them started, so he was clearly “An English gentleman”. You’ll find yourself whistling the melancholy melody and it’s also got a typically beautiful Acoustic Guitar solo. But elements of the song are so similar to ‘Golden Touch’ by Razorlight that the lawyers are probably preparing their case already.
Musically, ‘Days Slip Away’ reminded me of those other Welsh sons the Stereophonics, but Kelly Jones was never blessed with James’ ability to slip into such an affecting Falsetto. ‘Summer Wind’ is a cover of James’ favourite song, made famous by Frank Sinatra’s version. It’s a bit average when compared to other unexpected tracks he’s covered like ‘Bright Eyes’, ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’. ‘Victory & Defeat On The Kendon Hill’ is largely built around James’ superb Guitar playing. ‘Silver Birch Bonfire Blues’ has an almost ‘Holy Bible’ era evil Bass line. On average these B-sides don’t match up to the quality of those that backed his last single.