Jon Fratelli - Psycho Jukebox (2 stars)

Jon Fratelli - Psycho Jukebox

Derivative debut solo album material ranges from so-so to turgid


Among those of us who are – let’s be entirely frank here – not utter Neds, Jon ‘Fratelli’ Lawler is deep in the red in the credibility stakes, such is his culpability for the ubiquitous ‘da-dah-dah-da’ nightmare that was ‘Chelsea Dagger’. His debut solo album – which arrives on mercifully defunct pub-rockers The Fratellis’ former home Island – confirms the fairly obvious fact that it was he and not the two plumber-alikes at the back that was the talent in that trio, though it’s unlikely to see the curly-mopped Glaswegian achieve a volte-face in many peoples’ affections.

Psycho Jukebox predictably enough finds Lawler comfortable to imitate without ever innovating, with a set of plugged-in heritage rock-indebted material ranging in quality from so-so to turgid. Kinks-y garage thrum ‘Daddy Won’t Pay Your Bill’ is as good as things get; 'Santa Domingo' is the record’s nadir – an lunk-headed R&B stramash with rhyming-couplets (sample: ‘play chopsticks on my guitar/drive backwards in your one-wheeled car’) nonsensical enough to make Noel Gallagher sound like WH Auden.

He homages affectionately and convincingly – ‘The Band Played Just For Me’ channels early Springsteen; ‘Oh Shangri La’ is a Slade-style slice of 70s glam-stomping. You could imagine Lawler making a better sideman/ producer than a band leader (why he didn’t persevere with the Lou Hickey-fronted Codeine Velvet Club isn’t clear), because he can arrange a song well and evidently knows his way around a studio. But as things stand, his debts to the ears of people who don’t class stripping to the waist and chucking lager around as time well spent remain largely unpaid.

Jon Fratelli - Santo Domingo

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