It’s been a good two weeks since team Cowbell made their field trip to The 02 to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers and poor old Juliette is still experiencing the post-gig feels. In true fan-girl style, she has listened to all of their songs on repeat, re-read Anthony Kiedis’ biography, watched countless interviews with the band, she even forced herself to eat a red hot chilli pepper to prove her utmost devotion to the band. That’s a joke guys..I’m not into spicy cuisine.
But through my obsession I have stumbled upon an album that is nothing short of wonderful. The Chili’s guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, is one of those fine creative specimen that is not satisfied with simply being in one of the biggest bands in history. He is a musical hoe but in an impressive, respectable way. As well as having his own band, Dot Hacker, he has also collaborated with the infamous former lead singer of Thelonious Monster, Bob Forrest, to form the band, The Bicycle Thief.
Now if you don’t know the story of Bob Forrest, may I recommend that you watch Bob and the Monster, a documentary on his life that will make you cry and smile with sadness and happiness. In short, Bob was a hardcore punk who delved far too deep into the world of drugs, almost died, BUT RECOVERED, and is now an inspirational drugs counsellor for musicians. I haven’t done that justice by any means but basically he is a dude that deserves a lot of your respect and admiration.
So, after his recovery, him and Klinghoffer released their album in 1999 called You Come and Go Like a Pop Song, an album that I love because it is just so raw and uncomplicated, but full to the brim with emotion. Although deeply rooted in punk rock it’s not as heavy as Forrest’s old work with Thelonious Monster – it’s almost an infusion of garage rock and country. It has to be said, the main body is fairly melancholic, with songs like Everyone Asks and LA Country Hometown Blues swinging more towards the soft, country side. With that you also get Forrest’s brutal honesty with his lyrics, which becomes pretty apparent on one of my favourite songs on the album, Cereal Song. When the first words you hear of a song are ‘Oh heroin, oh heroin and cocaine’, you know it’s going to be a bit more intense than Taylor Swift singing about her exes. It’s a truly beautiful song, which is probably helped by the addition of John Frusciante on the track, and you can tell the subject means so much to old Bob, as he croons ‘What has it gotten me? Just some teeth I can’t chew my favourite cereal with’. Feelings right?
But it would be wrong of you to slag off this album as a mundane list of depressing songs. Yes, there’s some tristesse there (understatement of the year), but there’s also some more upbeat songs that sing of Bob’s recovery. Max, Jill Called has a certain Bryan Adams ‘I say yes to life!’ vibe to it, in a non-cringey way, but you see the resemblance when Bob opens with ‘I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, and pretty good is really good for me now’. The same goes for It’s Alright, where the title speaks for itself. Josh also gets a scorching guitar solo in at the end to remind us that he is pretty much the genius behind the sound of this album. I also love Aspirations (Stoned), just because it really stands out from the rest of the album as far chunkier and more hardcore. It’s very much a nod to Bob’s heydays as a bona fide punk-rocker, and there’s some serious rocking out from Josh.
So there you go, an intimate and emotional rollercoaster of a rock album, brought together by two guys whose passion for making great music surpasses anything I’ve heard of late. Unfortunately, being a fairly low-key band, you can only find their music on iTunes/Apple music or YouTube. I’ll admit it’s not very in keeping with the merriment of the seasonal festivities, so I apologise for not contributing something more festive to your ‘xmas 2016 playlist’.
But happy listening anyhoo,