Following on from a Fire Records reissue campaign which casts new light on a decades-long career, Wreckless Eric releases his first solo album in over a decade – ‘amERICa’ – It’s about Eric, it’s about America – a country he has toured since the late 70’s, and where he has lived since 2011.
Eric recorded the album in his ramshackle house in upstate New York: amplifiers in the kitchen, in the hallway, bass amp in the guest bedroom, microphones up the staircase, speaker cabinets in doorways, frenetic bursts of guitar feedback exploding out of the kitchen…He’s been living like this for years, since the 1980s drove him screaming from legitimate recording studios. A way of life transported from England to France, to England, back again to France, and finally to America.
Eric played electric guitars and bass throughout, strummed a scratchy 3/4 size Framus Teenager acoustic (bought from an old blues singer down in Georgia) against simplistic drum loops of his own creation. Here and there he called on friends and neighbours – Brian Dewan manned a malfunctioning Wurlitzer organ and other dodgy keyboards, bringing in cheap but magnificent synthetic choirs. Jane Scarpantoni played the cello. Alexander Turnquist guested on the e-bow guitar. Eric’s wife Amy Rigby assisted on piano, banjo and vocal harmonies. Eric treated and manipulated the sounds the American musicians made as they were being recorded
And so through random scrawls of guitars and loops and drones, meditations emerged on desperation (Property Shows), regret (Days Of My Life); fast food (Sysco Trucks), self-advancement (Up The Fuselage), pop fame lost and resurrected (Boy Band), firearms and civil liberties (White Bread): white bread built this land of milk and money…
Other songs are autobiographical and personal – Several Shades Of Green, Transitory Thing: I carried a case full of dirty clothes halfway around the world, when luggage was smaller and the chances were plenty I drank beer and sang songs for girls. The album ends with Have A Great Day, an immigrant’s open-eyed appreciation of his new home: Judy In Disguise, Bobbie Gentry’s Mississippi skies Trains rolling by Sears bungalow homes…
“I’ve been touring the U.S. since 1978 so moving here wasn’t a complete culture shock. I’ve driven from Rhode Island to San Francisco, Minnesota to the Gulf Of Mexico. I keep rolling along and sometimes the sunrises and sunsets are glorious and I get to thinking about things like where have I been, and how the hell did I wind up here? Some of the songs are quite reflective – the idea of dying one day becomes alarmingly real. I’m quite accepting of it – maybe I’ve got twenty years left if I’m lucky. Ten more albums…. I’ve been through some tough shit at various times in my life. I survived. I’m lucky, I have a great life.”
“Wreckless Eric is a hero to all those of us who love a good kitchen sink drama set to music. He takes the strangeness in the everyday and sets it to song. Like Ray Davies, Kevin Ayers and Ian Dury, he is a truly great British songwriter” Phil Alexander - Editor In Chief, MOJO