“We hope our selection gives a taste of the city’s unplugged underground from 2004 to 2014,” says curator Dave McTague. He can rest easy.
McTague, as lots of you will already know, is the man behind Mellowtone: the roots gang who put on gigs and happenings across Liverpool. They’ve been doing it for ten years now, and these are the artists they dig the most.
The city’s unplugged underground, as the promoter so succinctly puts it, is right on the money as a description for this eighteen track compilation. Chances are that if you’ve listened to music sipping a beer at The Kazimier, blowing the froth off a coffee at Leaf (Bold Street or Baltic) or climbing those stairs at Mathew Street’s View Two Gallery, you’ll have heard one of the tunes on offer here.
The best comes from Ireland’s The Prelude, the band who dominated the roots scene around Liverpool back in 2008. Black, Black is the song here that had (has?) the most potential to break on through and it remains a shame that the Celtic punks split after one record. They did give birth to Atlantic Massey though and their lament Time For Fishing is another highlight of the album.
Local stand-outs come from John Smith’s Winter, Paul Straws’ Notes From A Lifetime Ago and the brilliant St. David’s Day from ex-Maybes man, Nick Ellis. Scouse alumni such as Hannah Peel, Dave Owen, Cousin Jac and Ragz are also present and each brings something different to the party.
The release does feel like a party as you’re listening, or at least a quiet after hours one, with acoustic guitars, percussion and keyboards passed around. A lot like a Mellowtone gig!
In these days of quick fixes and cash ins, it’s nice to see something put together with the long game in mind – and something put together with the care and attention that most artists nurture their very best songs with. Releases like this are all ours.