On 1977 it would have been nigh on impossible to imagine Wreckless Eric putting out Transience, the album he's just released in 2019. Back in those far off days he was supposed to be a flash in the pan, a one hit wonder. Considered by many to be something of a joke, reasonably enough as he projected himself of something of one, an afterthought on the bottom of the Stiff Records roster and on their package tours with the obvious talents of the label at the time Elvis Costello and Ian Dury.
But he was more than that then and he's much more than that now. In some respects he's outlasted both Costello and Dury as recording talents. Unfair in Dury's case of course as he's long since no longer with us. But Costello's last record did very little for me while Transience does a lot. First song Father to the Man alone makes it worthwhile. It's as good a summation of a life and career and relationship between a father and son as you're ever likely to hear. It says it all. 'I've got this name but it doesn't fit.' 'I love my dad but I don't want to be him. A history coming back again.' He's talking about right wing politics, which is what his dad espoused and is back in vogue with the swing of the pendulum of the last few years. The song is poignant, sage and touching, everything you want from a musician at his point of his career.
Elsewhere Eric rekindles his Pub Rock roots but sometimes comes on just as much San Francisco circa 1967 as Tottenham Court Road circa 1977. You get the feeling he's a happy man now. When I saw him a few years back playing in an upstairs room of a pub in Gateshead, I spoke to him afterwards and he was open and friendly, continually mentioning his talented wife, singer songwriter Amy Rigby and how he lived in the Catskills. It was almost as if he couldn't believe how his life had worked out himself.
Transience has a cosmic aura to it, almost as if the man has fallen hard for transcendental Californian mysticism. Some of it works well, some of it less so, the long songs are overlong, but you can't begrudge the man these moments of self indulgence. He's lasted the course and still has plenty to say.