Pete Astor – One For The Ghost
Tapete Records – 16 February 2018
Although they never matched it, The Weather Prophets produced one of the most sublime chiming guitar records of the C86 movement with Almost Prayed, after which frontman Pete Astor went on to release four solo albums before briefly quitting the business, returning in the late 90s and subsequently recordings as part of different projects of variegated musical styles, including a solo collection of radically reworked folk standards. However, there never seemed a particular consistency to the music he was making, even within the same albums, so it’s good to find his latest a finely focused collection that draws on the lyrically articulate, ringing guitar pop of his briefly glorious past.
It opens in splendid form with the Byrdsian jangle and walking beat of the lyrically London-based Walker, keeping the quality bouncing in the red with chugging love song Water Tower, another catchy guitar circling melody and locomotive rhythm. The upbeat death-themed title track, which references the passing of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway, but is more a celebration of a life lived, makes it three highpoints in a row and as the album proceeds the quality never dips. Golden Boy is a bass rumbling driving rockabilly number, Injury Time a chiming 60s folk-rock flavoured acoustic number with a yearning trebly vocal that reminds me of Stephen Duffy, the circling soft boys pop melody of Magician and Assistant another number with McGuinn-like guitar.
Only Child has a kind of T. Rex feel to the bassline intro while the track itself carries a Beatles vibe as the album heads into the final stretch with the mid-tempo ballad Tango Uniform, another track that calls The Lilac Time to mind, and, driven by a repeated drum pattern and more jangling guitar, You Better Dream, a song about rising above surrounding frustrations and adversity, also shares a kinship with early Robyn Hitchcock.
It ends on a reverb guitar notes ballad note with Dead Fred, a poignant sha la la la la-ing song about the passing of “a gentle life” that, rather than sadness and pain, sees his spirit transformed into a Fred Astaire, dancing his way to the next life.
It’s taken 32 years to come up with an album that fully lives up to the euphoric promise of Almost Prayed, but those prayers have finally been answered.
Pete Astor UK Live Dates
MON 19 FEBRUARY – Rough Trade East, London
FRI 23 FEBRUARY – Rough Trade Bristol, Bristol
FRI 23 MARCH – The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle Upon Tyne
SAT 12 MAY – The Eagle Inn, Salford
Photo Credit: Susanne Ballhausen