Saturday, 21 August 2010

Loving the blues with the Lipstick Melodies.

I remember when I was a nineteen year old kid, in short trousers and a Pete Doherty t-shirt, trilby hat and dirty finger nails, thinking the self confessed Libertine was a dying breed (excuse the pun) Standing at the front of Koko, with all the other skinny Indie kids waiting for him to stumble on and play some off-tune Babyshambles songs, just praying he would turn up.

I loved Mr Doherty, but was pleasantly surprised when a lad called Alan Wass appeared on stage one night. He proceeded to play some Deep Southern Blues inspired tracks that transported me back to a different era. An era when Bourbon Street invented the Blues, an era when folk rock (and a certain Mr Dylan) changed the face of music as we knew it.

Back then, Mr Wass played with a group called Left Hand. A band that I followed around London, a band that stole the show at Tommy Flynn's in Camden every Wednesday night, a band that I would buy shots for at the George Tavern. A band that I became a little bit obsessed by. I was an easily led child. Anyway, Mr Wass had a bit of a break down, maybe it was the company he was keeping, maybe it was the tequila I insisted on buying him, or maybe it was just the Tottenham in the man (we'd all wanna be wasted if we lived in Tottenham, I should know, I live in Walthamstow) Like his mate, Peter, a spell in rehab and a few months getting clean has led to a new beginning and a new band; the Lipstick Melodies.

'Hired Gun' was always my favourite tune, a real Wild West inspired composition, exposing Wass' voice at its finest and causing audiences to hang on to his every word. You could literally smell the final frontier on his cowboy boots and fedora hat. Wass has a Rock and Roll stagger and aura around him that few modern artists can claim to match. His infectious lyrics, driven by guitar riffs, saxophone and energetic keyboard solos wouldn't be out of context in a dusty, Austin bar.

Other notable additions to the Wass catalogue include 'No Protection,' 'Go It Alone,' and 'Runaway Blues.' All steaming into powerful choruses and dripping with a Rock and Roll spirit that seems to be absent from today's mainstream billboards. Wass has a similar stage presence to tabloid favourite and good friend Peter Doherty; even if we don't like him we can't help but watch. There is an innocence behind the dark eyes and a magnetism that seems to strengthen with every word delivered.
Wass has had his ups and downs and we can read this pain in his songs. He complains of a 'Golden Heart Ache' in one of his closing numbers, an ache that adds an uncontrolled passion to his lyrics. His friendship with Doherty must be down to their similarities in living out mistakes and regrets through their music.

It is a mystery as to why Wass and the Lipstick Melodies haven't been signed up. With such influential friends and a heavy tour schedule that sees them travel the continent, it can only be a matter of time until they join the big boys. Wass is a breath of fresh air in an industry that keeps knocking out bands that look the same, sound the same and remain the same.
Spare change guv'ner?

Photographs by Egle Achmadijevaite

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