TERENCE BLACKER – Playing For Time (Talking Cat TCCD 1901)

Playing For TimeThey do say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Alternatively, I’ve heard that the older we get, the better we were. Somewhere between those two truths lies Terence Blacker’s new album, Playing For Time. It was recorded in Italy with local musicians which might account for ‘Europa, Mein Amour’. Presumably, Terence will be forced home by Brexit, very much against his will, but his love song for Europe is clumsily expressed, making him sound like the militant wing of the remainer movement.

‘The Anno Domini Rag (Do The Shuffle And Sag)’ might not be the best track to open the album. It’s a jolly piece but it gives a slightly false impression of the rest of the record – as a spot of light relief later on it would have been better placed. The second track, ‘The Sha-La-La-La Song’ remembering illicit nocturnal activities, could have opened and fitted with the album’s title as well. Oh, we’ve all done it under the bedclothes – listened to Radio Luxemburg; what did you think I was talking about?

Nostalgia is at the heart of Playing For Time. ‘Memories Are Company’ is about hanging on to bad memories and holding grudges while ‘Thank You To My Team’ is about the expectation of better fortune after a defeat. There are some more serious songs to come. I guess that ‘Forty Degrees’ is about global warming; ‘Fake News’ is obvious and quite clever and ‘Me Too’ has a pop at Harvey Weinstein and vacuous politicians. “A frozen grin on his face and panic in his eyes” is really timely.

‘The Players And The Game’ is probably the best song on the record and provides the cover image and sets us off on a journey of self-exploration through ‘I Fool Myself’ (don’t we all?) to ‘Saved By A Song’ about meeting a woman “divorced and 29”. That has to be wishful thinking, doesn’t it? Between them is ‘Time Is A Hard-Ridden Pony’, a love song cast as a western movie.

Playing For Time is well performed and produced but comes over as rather old-fashioned – I guess that’s part of the point.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.terenceblacker.com

‘The Sha-La-La-La Song’ – live in lockdown: