As part of Record Store Day’s first 2020 event later this month, Cherry Ghosts “Live at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge” is available to purchase on vinyl.
Details on the release and participating stores can be found here.
Photography by Nick Small.
Design by Luke Insect.
Fergal Kinney has written the sleeve notes which transport us back to this special live show and highlight Simon Aldred’s songwriting talent.
Live at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge captures the Bolton-born, Ivor Novello-winning songwriter Simon Aldred at something of a crossroads in his creative and personal life.
In January 2015, Heavenly Recordings held a weekender at West Yorkshire’s celebrated Hebden Bridge Trades Club – an interwar members’ co-operative nestled in the shivering Calder Valley – and invited Cherry Ghost to perform. The show would mark the sense of an ending for Aldred’s project – though not an actual ending.
Cherry Ghost had been quiet following the release of their third album, Herd Runners, the previous year. Aldred had stated the album would be their final release. A successful co-writing career was blossoming for Aldred, not to mention the small matter of personal happiness on the horizon. More than this, one of Aldred’s songs – ‘People Help the People’, described by Aldred as ‘an anthem for socialism’ – was having an unexpected afterlife as a global hit for the singer Birdy. How many anthems for socialism get namechecked on Saturday night television by Simon Cowell?
The Trades Club set’s instrumentation brings to the fore Aldred’s songwriting – intimate, spartan arrangements with Christian Madden on keyboards and Grenville Harrop on percussion. Had he been a little less – in his words – musically schizophrenic, a little easier to define, he’d be rightly understood as one of the most impressive British songwriters of the 21st century so far.
Captured here is Aldred’s drizzly Northern gothic, a classicism that comes from both pop and from country – haunted by his seemingly contradictory impulses towards ink-black pessimism and genuine yearning. Last bus loneliness, late-night Spars, solitary drinkers, factory floors and Gods that betray – all of human life is captured in this set. What if Scott Walker had watched the rain in Bolton? What would Edward Hopper find in a city centre Manchester bar?
There are surprises too – ‘All I Want’, quietly released as part of Aldred’s ‘Out Cold’ synth project, candidly examines Aldred’s sexuality, whilst the seldom heard B-side ‘Bad Crowd’ reveals a much funnier songwriter than is expected.
Live at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge is perhaps the best-realised collection of Simon Aldred’s songs to date – and one, it’s worth noting, that ends on his most optimistic song yet; captured at the very darkest point of winter, promising clear skies ever closer.
Details on Heavenly Recordings August 29th Record Store Day releases can be found here.