Bob Collum hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma but is long settled in deepest Essex; an unrepentant and incurable anglophile who’s released a series of acclaimed albums while regularly gigging with his ever-evolving Welfare Mothers.
Pay Pack And Carry arrives with the anticipated meld of tradition and innovation. Based on a long-established fusion of power pop and country music it shows once again his mastery of both, overlaid with many other fascinations, and featuring a couple of significant guest collaborators in Martin Belmont (Ducks Deluxe, The Rumour) and Peter Holsapple (REM, The dBs) who just happen to be musical giants.
Recorded over the course of a year Bob’s preference has been never to spend more than two consecutive days in the studio: “It keeps it more fun; doing just a couple of days at a time you avoid getting bogged down”. As previously he uses former Vibrator Pat Collier’s studio, allowing Pat to take much of the producer’s role.
The core players are long-serving drummer Paul Quarry, bassist Matthew Hall, and recent recruit Mags Layton on violin. Mags came with new perspectives, initiating the Bernard Hermann vibe to ‘Blue Sky Rain’, radically altering the song and squeezing out all guitar bar Martin’s arpeggios and fills.
She’s also allowed Bob to rein back on the more traditional country elements. The title track proves a fine example of how they can infuse his compositions without being blatant. He’ll reference particular Byrds and Monkees songs as “not trying too hard to sound like country songs. Taking the elements but doing it organically rather than dramatically”.
There are readings of both Mike Heron’s ‘Log Cabin Home In The Sky’ and Michael Nesmith’s ‘Different Drum’, as Bob strongly believes doing covers prevents a performer seeming too self-absorbed. Peter Holsapple provides harmonies on both: “I knew it was right up his alley. Peter can do the vocal asides – the ‘yeahs’ and ‘woos’ I wish I could.”
Avoiding self-absorption is typical of the man. Getting Bob Collum to stay on the subject of his music can be some task, though he does concede: “I like the new album”. Then he’ll be making light of his abilities, and start talking about The Beatles again. It may speak to his grounding, self-awareness, and sense of standing on the shoulders of giants, but underplay it as he might Pay Pack And Carry provides yet more evidence of his singular talent.
Pay Pack And Carry is out now through HarbourSong Records.
"He has a rare gift for melodies and hooks and fuses that with his love of classic rock'n'roll, country and powerpop to create not only a unique sound but one that is well-nigh irresistible." **** MAVERICK
"The whole album is well worth packing and carrying home." LONESOME HIGHWAY
“A good 'go to' when you want a slice of uncomplicated sophistication in your listening repertoire."
THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH