2023 promises to be a busy year for Tom Hingley; next month sees the return of his post-Inspiral Carpets band The Lovers, plus extensive solo and band dates with his latest band The Kar-pets. But first, he starts the year with an exciting new project. Tom has taken time to record a new mini-album with his life long friend, former Hacienda co-worker and band mate from his pre-Inspirals beat combo, Too Much Texas, Gordon Mackay. It marks the first time they have recorded together in 38 years.
Gordon and Tom were glass collectors at the Hacienda in the mid 80s when they formed Too Much Texas. After recording a few singles and a Peel Session, Tom joined Inspiral Carpets in 1989 and a wave of success followed. He never forgot his old band mate though and spring forward to post pandemic 2021, Tom met up with Gordon who was mourning the passing of his and Father Ian and sister Angela. To help Gordon in his grief, Tom suggested marking his friends 60th birthday by recording a memorial album. Tom has shared some of these songs as part of his solo shows recently and now we see the fruits of their labour. On this album, there’s a song to mark each decade of Gordon’s life.
The duo have been ably assisted on the album with Gordon’s son Angus on bass and synthesiser, and Ben Heaney featuring on strings and piano on Killing Kittens. Oxford based percussionist Scott Bearman-Brown joined in a couple of tracks too. The result is a beautifully emotive album, at times reminding me of his excellent Sand and Paper long players.
Decades is very much a team effort though with Gordon’s bluesy riff introducing Document Six, an assured Tom vocal, and all held together by a magnificent string section.
Ian is a tribute to Gordon’s father, who became deaf on a National Service rifle range as an instructor, but retained a tolerance to the challenges of both his children and grand children throughout his life. Once again, Ian benefits from string arrangements. It is followed by another biographical song, Angela. Angela is a delicate acoustic song and a meditation on the passing of Gordon’s sister. Meditation is something Tom has been embracing in recent years.
Tiny Shadow of Love changes the tempo, in which Tom sings of an imaginary love triangle and is the most upbeat song here. Killing Kittens has a real groove and reminiscent of Tom’s debut solo album Keep Britain Untidy.
There’s a lighthearted ending to Decades. Album closer When Ali Came to Abingdon is like a folky Chas and Dave style singalong which chronicles Muhammad Ali’s mythical visits to Gordon’s Hometown in the 70s and 80s.
Born out of sad circumstances, Decades is a cathartic album for both Tom and Gordon yet ranks as one of Tom’s finest pieces of work. Let’s hope this partnership continues and we hear more from them both.
The album is available on all streaming sites and as a cd from Tom's website
Tom promotes the album with a series of shows, including Wrexham on 10th February and Hanbury (27th March) as well as a pair of The Lovers shows at Manchester AATMA (3rd February) and London’s 100 Club the following day.