Heath Common is a beat poet whose previous efforts have been a little hit and miss, but this new album is his most musical and probably the most likely to raise his profile.
Admittedly that profile will go from cult figure’s cult figure to merely cult figure but we can at least recommend you consider parting money without fearing you returning to beat us around the head with a hardback copy of the Howl.
Heath’s previous work has been more poetry with some music but this is more music whose lyrics happen to be in poetic form. It’s a CD of two halves, half set in Halifax and half in Notting Hill. The sleeve also features the first photo we’ve seen of him — we always imagined a Richard Hawley-esque figure but he’s more like a bruiser from Game of Thrones. It’s no wonder he can talk of a renowned psycho without fear.
The CD opens in Halifax, and tales of the Halifax Gala Queen (used to babysit young Heath) and the previously mentioned Jack Brown: “feared but fair… He’s not a bouncer, he’s a psychopath!” The Review Corner once spent time in West Yorkshire so some of the topics appealed to us, though we think you’ll find, Heath, that it’s Ogden Water not Ogden Reservoir. Though it is a reservoir. After the ‘Fax, Heath moved down to that London and the second half of the CD is about Notting Hill; all art, poetry and Warhol. The sleeve comes with paintings for each song, drawn by Patrick Wise.
It’s fair to say it’s not Justin Bieber. Common has a gravelly voice of Tom Waits proportions, and speaks/half sings the lyrics. But there is plenty of music; as well as your usual band stuff there’s banjo, tablas temple bells, Irish pipes and piano, which give a feel more musical than poetic recital.