The Cherry Bluestorms - Bad Penny Opera

Release Date: March 2013

Knowing The Cherry Bluestorms as a great live band, with first and foremost lots of Grade A psychedelic guitar at the foundation of the band, it comes as a surprising ear-opener to hear this sophomore album kicking off with a Kraftwerk like intro on the “Bad Penny Overture”. It’s not long before the inventive guitar licks of Glen Laughlin find their way in though.

The acoustic “By Your Leave” sounds like it could be a long lost Nick Drake song, with Deborah’s plaintive vocal sounding as if she’s actually living the song. The album does have a concept flow about it, and this is the character of Penny leaving home in the north of England to head for pastures new, and the bright lights of the big city down south.

The one cover on the album is a beautifully arranged version of Donovan’s classic “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” from “A Gift From A Flower To A Garden”. This song serves to let us know not just when we are, but where we are as well.

“Sunday Driving South” is filled with a gorgeous string arrangement and a mellotron sound stolen from “Strawberry Fields Forever”. With name-checks to Arnold Layne, Purple Haze and Mr Toad, this is definitely an album high-light.

Glen and Deborah’s vocals work perfectly well together, and this is especially high-lighted on “The Country Man”.

Nearing the end of the album, the dreams, hopes and wishes of Penny seem to have vanished by the time we get to “Start Again”. The lyrics are matched wonderfully by Glen’s brooding guitar riff. Oh, and talking of lyrics, some of Glen’s finest are on the album’s closing number “Bad”. They portray the darkest images you could imagine.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of redemption for Penny in this tale of lost hopes and dreams, but as in a lot of great song-writing, you can take out of it whatever you want. What you DO get is the feeling of the heart and soul of the 60’s planted firmly in the 21st century.

This album is without doubt a giant leap forward in putting this band in the major league. It deserves to be recognised as a classic already.

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