Gun fire off triumphant comeback record.

Gun Band WPThere was a short time in the mid nineties when Word Up didn’t always bring to mind a red codpiece on a dancing black man (or should that be Blackmon?). In fact in 1994 it was a peroxide, skinny white boy doing the dancing as Gun’s surprise hit of the famously funky Word Up caught many off guard, not just the choice of song but where did these rockers suddenly get their groove from?

Line up changes around the central trio of the Gizzi brothers, Jools and Dante, and singer Mark Rankin, finally led to a muscular four piece creating driving rock with a dance floor strut, and a genre crossing album in Swagger. With denim and leather left behind, and the long hair, Gun had gained the ground they’d been working for since their opening brace of records, Taking On The World and Gallus. But after a bum steer with the phone number album, 0141 632 6326, the groove had run out and the band split.

After a decade on various projects, Jools and Dante Gizzi felt Gun still had bullets in the chamber, and reformed in 2008. Rankin decided not to join the reformation and Toby Jepson took on lead vocals. More upheaval in the ranks led to Dante taking lead singer duties, an obvious choice since handling them on graveyard shift single Something Worthwhile in ‘94, and Gun’s second coming was soon gathering pace.

It is not an archetypal rock album, but in rock bingo Break The Silence certainly calls house early. Jools’ guitar finesse works very well with Dante’s rich timbred vocals, akin to the deeper delivery of Axl Rose, but his metallic squawk does appear on Innocent Thieves. There’s big chorus’ jumping out from the speakers on almost every track and powerful, urgent drumming throughout. But there’s more to this comeback record than predictable rock.

The opening brace comes on like Gun used to, hard and heavy. They’ve a knack of cracking album openers showing intent, but it is the next track, Lost and Found, gives ‘Break’ it’s salient moment. Producer Dave Eringa gives the band a Manics make over, a sound reflecting the Welsh trio’s ‘Send Away The Tigers.’ Expansive strings lift the chorus, vibrant sing-a-long vocals and a pop edge to, what may be, an autobiographical number. With lines such as “Are you lost, are you found?/I’m just sitting here hanging around/And you know we got a brand new sound” suggest Gun know they are a new proposition to many and wish to disconnect from the past without actually forgetting it.

What makes Break The Silence a great release are the surprises it contains, harmonies straight from the banks of the Mersey on No Substitute, and the title track opens reminiscent of Video Killed the Radio Star, all jittery keyboards and odd vocals. Eringa, having broadened the Manics range, helps Gun do the same, as strings add drama to How Many Roads, the album’s dramatic centre-piece in the rock storm.

Also on show is the heavier side of mid-eighties jangly pop, which isn’t meant as a dirty word. Make no mistake, this is good, clean fun: a youthful offering of a band belying their years simply enjoying themselves. Yet this is also a mature record that doesn’t sound sluggish or dull. The Gizzi brothers, along with Derek Brown and Paul McManus, have delivered a joyful return.

There’s no need to ponder where Gun fit in to the music scene in 2012. It would be futile. All that is needed is a pure listen to Break The Silence, without the idea that this rock horse is being flogged within a pop nugget of its last rites by mimicking other bands glories. This is Gun sounding as fresh and as fun since Swagger dummied the rock fraternity. Triumphant!

4 Responses to “Gun fire off triumphant comeback record.”
  1. rockmusicfan says:

    A bit too poppy, synth and keyboard laiden for me, prefered GUN when they were an ‘in your face’ rock band.

  2. fairdes says:

    Great review! You got my attention with the Cameo/Word Up reference. I’m guessing that’s where the similarities end; but you’ve piqued my attention enough to explore them further. Cheers.

    • Word Up’s parent lp, Swagger, is a cracking record, a concise modern rock record upon it’s release. The first two records were more straight ahead rock. None of them bad records but Swagger is cooler, it has a sexiness to it. Don’t expect anything as funky as Word Up, but check the video on youtube, it will explain further.

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