Bidgie Reef & The Gas - Songs For The Unstable

Mike Hall 27/10/2004

Rating: 4/5

Let's get this straight and let's attempt to make no more of it: The lead singer in Bidgie Reef & The Gas is an old geezer called Roger Winslet. He's Kate Winslet's dad. So he's old and in a new band and he's also someone famous' father. Enough.

'Songs…' is the debut release from the Reading based 6-piece, and is a record attempting to hold up a mirror to British society. It's an album based more in rhythm than melody, and musically it's quite conservative stuff (think XTC or Be Bop Deluxe) but it all comes together once Winslet's tough, indeed, paternal vocals kick in. Part world-weary social worker, part half-drunk Sinatra, Winslet's half sung half spoken lyrics are often a joy particularly on menacing tracks like 'Latchkey Lennie', a Blockheads-type delve into the psychoses of a lonely, ignored child, and 'Outdoor Fireworks' a cleverly constructed modern paranoia song, again in the Dury mould.

Thematically this isn't exactly familiar territory for a current Brit-band: as you'll get from 'let's do crack, be very skinny and pretend we're all a happy drunken brotherhood' fare.Disabled cowboys, freakish carnivals, getting old, getting worn out…it's as far It's all very grown up stuff admittedly, but it's aimed at street level by a guy who really seems to know what he's talking about when he waxes lyrical on life.