Most American listeners are unfamiliar with the music of Wreckless Eric. Whole Wide World, his 1977 single, remains a classic of England’s punk era; Mojo Magazine named it one of the best punk-rock singles ever. Still, the tune—which features producer Nick Lowe on guitar and bass—didn’t chart in Eric’s native England, nor anywhere else. But it has been widely covered on record and performed live by artists as diverse as Mikal Cronin, the Wallflowers, and Cage the Elephant (which charted with their 2017 version).
Yet the man born Eric Goulden continues to follow his singular musical muse, regularly releasing albums of new material. Early 2018 welcomed the latest Wreckless Eric album, “Construction Time & Demolition.” Four decades after his debut single, Eric hasn’t left his punk roots behind, his latest album remaining true to the Class of 1977 DIY ethos.
“Construction Time & Demolition” may well be Wreckless Eric’s most fully realized album. Maybe it’s the accumulated wisdom of years, but no matter the f inspiration, Eric’s latest release is, in its own modest way, a musical heir to songs Ray Davies wrote for the Kinks in the early 1970s. Exploring his own Britishness, Goulden has made an album that evokes “Preservation: Act 1”-era Kinks in both subject matter and arrangements.
Goulding has long swung for the fences with his albums, combining creative ambition with musical simplicity. His 2015 album “AmERICa” sharply focused his lyrics on his adopted country, and the two albums that preceded (2008’s “Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby” and 2010’s “Two-Way Family Favourites”) found him collaborating effectively with his life partner—and successful singer-songwriter in her own right—Amy Rigby.
But on this latest release, Wreckless Eric takes a wistful, nostalgic look at the world today, set against the backdrop of his past. With songs like “The World Revolved Around Me” and “They Don’t Mean No Harm,” he demonstrates that he’s been able to build upon his early musical blueprint. His vocals often recall Robyn Hitchcock, and the musical approach employed on “Construction Time & Demolition” bridges the musical gap between Hitchcock’s Egyptians-era work and that of the Kinks’ most underappreciated period. If anything, Goulden’s latest work is superior to the immortal “Whole Wide World.”
April 13, 9pm at The Burlington, 3425 West Fullerton, (773)384-3243. $12
Author: Bill Kopp
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. His more than 2,500 interviews, essays, and reviews reflect Bill’s keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill’s work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues, and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. His first book, “Reinventing Pink Floyd,” is due from Rowman & Littlefield in February 2018.