Review – Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern (Deluxe Remastered Reissue) – by James R. Turner

Somewhere at the arse end of Britpop, where record labels and the bigger bands had either lost the plot or were rapidly evolving to avoid the Britpop tag, there were some truly great albums released in that fag end; ‘Urban Hymns’ by The Verve or ‘Be Here Now’ by Oasis captured the decline of the Britpop years beautifully, while Radiohead’s ‘Ok, Computer’ set the controls for the heart of the sun. Meanwhile four-piece Mansun, who were lumped, unfairly to my ears, into the whole Britpop scene (well, they were British, and they made music!) took the top of the charts with ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’.

Despite the strength of the follow up ‘Six’, as well as ‘Little Kixx’, the band folded amidst much acrimony, leaving behind a collection of albums that, if you were there you’d get, if you weren’t then you would be amazed that you hadn’t heard them before.

Now signed to Kscope for his debut album and having achieved critical acclaim for his come-back and his tour supporting Steven Wilson, original Mansun frontman Paul Draper recently toured the UK selling out venues performing ‘Attack…’ in it’s entirety for the first time.

With the Mansun back catalogue now on Kscope, they have brought out a luxurious 21st anniversary edition. This pulls together demo’s, live tracks, unreleased material and, the holiest of holies, a shiny new 5.1 mix of the album.

Back in 2010 when the rights were held by EMI, they produced a triple disc edition of the album and while, inevitably, there is some cross over, the demo’s and 5.1 mix make this new package as attractive to new fans and older ones who want to relive their youth.

Astonishingly there are people buying music today who weren’t even born when this album appeared, and doesn’t that make me feel old?

Starting out as a concept about a superhero, The Grey Lantern, the band admitted there weren’t quite enough songs to complete the concept, but it doesn’t matter when the material on here is of such quality and style.

Anyone unfamiliar with the original album won’t know how it starts with the best Bond theme there never was, the dramatic string laden and powerful The Chad Who Loved Me, before leading into the sardonically titled Mansun’s Only Love Song (this quirky sense of humour and self-deprecation was to be a trade mark of the band) and, while they were put into the Britpop box, there was always more going on musically, as the brilliantly Beatles inspired, and pure festival singalong, Taxlo$$ proved. There were the brilliant single releases like the epic Wide Open Space and Stripper Vicar, the former being an absolute musical epic, and the latter being a very English piece of musical high-farce which could only have been made by an English band.

With a closing quartet of songs, She Makes my Nose Bleed, Naked Twister, Egg Shaped Fred and Dark Mavis, there is no bad track on this album. It is one of those organically produced records from the golden age of CDs where the sequence is everything and the album must be listened to in its entirety. This is no collection of songs to stream or put on as background, this is an album as art and, as such, is full of class, heart and soul.

Which is why it is perfect for the 5.1 treatment. There was always plenty going on musically with Mansun and the 5.1 mix enhances and expands this, giving the tracks real wide open space to breath. This makes it a completely immersive experience, taking it all back to listening to albums as they were meant to be listened to, you, a room and the sounds taking them over.

The fact that Mansun were so obviously head and shoulders above most of the Britpop crowd means they were more on a par with Pulp than Oasis, in that they have made timeless, classy intelligent rock music, music that wasn’t afraid to be a bit different from the norm. Listening back now it’s hard to imagine that if Mansun appeared from nowhere and released this today that it would get to number one. While it is easier to access music today, I have a suspicion that, looking at the demographic of the record buying youth 21 years ago, they were probably more accepting to trying something slightly different than the youth of today. So different, in fact, that they let, and actively encouraged Radiohead and Mansun to get away with blatant prog right under their noses in the depths of Britpop, the cheeky little scamps!

After seeing Paul Draper perform ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ live (a gig I’d only been waiting to see for 21 years) my interest in all things Mansun has been rekindled and, as Kscope have the full back catalogue, it appears that the follow up to ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’, the even more astonishing and out there ‘Six’, is being readied for 5.1.

If ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ was the gateway drug, ‘Six’ is where we hit the hard stuff. With Paul Draper promising to perform it in it’s entirety live next year, well, I am already eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the Mansun story and, after immersing yourself in this well made, and well remastered set (the new mixes sound sublime and are really sympathetic to the original album) you will be too.

(As a note for those of you who aren’t into 5.1, there is a standard edition available as well, shiny and remastered for your pleasure.)

Released 8th June 2018

Buy the album from Burning Shed here

Band pictures by Pennie Smith.

 

Paul Draper Set to perform songs from Mansun’s SIX album at Festival Number 6 & Trades Club warm up show

Following on from his hugely successful UK tour earlier this year where he performed songs from Mansun’s Attack Of The Grey Lantern, Paul Draper has confirmed that in September 2018 he will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the release of Mansun’s second album SIX, by performing tracks from the iconic album at this year’s Festival Number 6 (www.festivalnumber6.com ) in Portmeirion, Wales.

Paul has also announced that he’ll be playing a warm up show ahead of the festival at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, and a chance for fans to hear a preview of the songs from SIX, performed by Paul, solo, for the first time – Paul comments “It’s a really exciting challenge to be playing tracks from the Six album for the first time as a solo artist on the 20th Anniversary of the album’s release, really looking forward to this at Festival No.6 and the special warm up show at Trades Club, Hebden Bridge beforehand.’”

6th September – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge

6-9tth September – Festival Number 6 – Portmeirion

For ticket information http://pauldraperofficial.com

Kscope, who released Draper’s high anticipated debut solo album Spooky Action last year have acquired the rights to Mansun’s back catalogue. The ground-breaking label will roll out a reissue campaign over eighteen months that will cover the band’s entire history and enhance their reputation as one of the most iconic and innovative bands of the 90s.

The campaign begins on 8th June with the release of Attack of the Grey Lantern (1997) and will be followed by Six (1998), Little Kix (2000) and the compilation Kleptomania (2004). The Kscope reissues will bring these classic records into the modern age by delving into a treasure trove of previously unreleased audio and visual material while fully remastering the original recordings for 5.1 and deluxe 180gm vinyl.

Follow Paul Draper & Mansun here:

Official site: http://pauldraperofficial.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pauldraperofficial

Spotify: http://smarturl.it/PAUL_DRAPER_SPOTIFY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulDraper

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/pauldraperofficial

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pauldraper1970/

Mansun Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mansun

Hi res images are available to download:

www.kscopemusic.com/media/mansun

http://www.kscopemusic.com/media/paul-draper

Live Review – Paul Draper – Bristol SWX – 21st February 2018 – by James R Turner

It’s been a long time coming, but former Mansun frontman Paul Draper reappeared recently onto the music scene with a new album called ‘Spooky Action’ (wonder where he found that title…..) and a fresh young touring band.

This year, on it’s the 21st anniversary of Mansun’s debut long player, ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ and, ahead of K Scope preparing to release it in a remastered and expanded (and 5.1, oh be still my beating heart) deluxe set, Mr Draper set off on a UK tour performing two sets.

The first made up entirely of solo ‘Spooky Action’ material, and the second being ‘Attack…’, performed in its entirety for the first time ever.

Now, I know the gig was back in February, and we are now into April, but in my defence I have moved to a new house and so when I looked on the calendar and arranged a date to complete (and be out of the flat complete with all our wordlies boxed up and ready for the removal van) I had agreed Feb 22nd.

So, a gig I’ve been waiting to see since ‘Attack…’ first hit my stereo back at the fag end of Britpop over 20 years ago (and it’s astonishing how many influential albums that I consider contemporary are getting the 20th and beyond anniversary, ‘OK Computer’, ‘Urban Hymns’, ‘His and Hers’, ‘Be Here Now’, ‘Boys for Pele’, this was, amongst many others, the sound of my adolescence and dear reader it makes me feel old) and yet I needed to have every boxed up and ready to go without any stress.

So I did what any sensible human would do, and go the gig, but drive – best of both worlds and in hindsight the right move, as it took me back 20 years and the stress of the moment was relieved.

If anyone here doesn’t believe in the healing power of music, then my friends you’re missing out.

Now the gig had been moved from the Bierkeller which shut down in conflicting circumstances at the start of February, luckily SWX round the corner is a nicer and more modern version, with an excellent sound system, and from where we were we had an excellent view of the stage, so as an aside, if you see anyone promoted here and wonder if it’s worth going, it’s a Yes from me (& it’s very close to town and about 20 minutes’ walk from Temple Meads – see, who needs trip advisor?)

Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the support act, who was a local lad with a guitar and a penchant for checked shirts and listening to Nick Drake and Bob Dylan, it was pleasant enough and I’m sure his Mum enjoyed it, but it didn’t set the world alight, and his acoustic guitar sound was lost at points in the venue.

Then came the part we were waiting for, Mansun always exuded an aura of mystery and a certain disconnect that set about as far away from the Britpop scene that they were lumped in with, like a square peg in a round hole, and it was great to see Paul Draper, slightly older, bearded and full of chat between songs and with plenty of stage presence.

Even better, he still has the power in his voice, and an incredibly tight and talented young band around him, with Ben Sink on guitar doing a lot of the heavy lifting, allowing Draper to focus on the singing and being the frontman, he has always been.

I know the audience were there for ‘Attack…‘ but the ‘Spooky Action’ material really holds its own with the gig opening as the album does with the superb Don’t Poke the Bear, and songs like Grey House, Jealousy is a Powerful Emotion, Friends Make the Worst Enemies and Who’s Wearing the Trousers all went down a storm.

Then, after a brief interval, the band came back on stage with a nod from Paul thanking his ‘support act’ and then, the rousing strings of the best James Bond theme there never was The Chad Who Loved Me came ringing out, and the auditorium was lost in a magical musical time warp, as the classics like Wide Open Space, Stripper Vicar, the legendary Taxloss, Dark Mavis and the rest all came out in a blaze of glory.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no nostalgia act, as the first half proved, and as a band who were always slightly out of time, Mansun’s tunes have proved timeless, as this album still sounds fresh, exciting and contemporary even 21 years later.

I went into this show not knowing whether it would be worth my money (&yes dear reader – this is one of those rare occurrences where I review something I paid for!) and it was worth every penny.

During the gig Paul Draper said he would back soon, performing ‘Six’ in it’s entirety – take all of my money, now!!!

 

 

Mansun announce ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ deluxe remastered reissue

Deluxe remastered reissue of the classic debut album. Kscope, June 8th

Stunningly remastered from the original multi-tracks – this incredible album will be available on all digital platforms and as a media book CD, a 2 x black gatefold vinyl, a very limited 2 x purple gatefold heavyweight vinyl (complete with original design printed inner bags) and a lavish four disc limited book (3CD+DVD) including remastered album, DVD (including 5.1 mix, original videos and hi-def mix), a 70 page book with a new extended essay on the making the record and its impact, a CD of never before heard demos, rarities & outtakes and a CD of selected Mansun BBC Sessions.

Mansun – one of the most iconic bands of the late ’90s – have announced details of a huge remastered reissue of their 1997 debut album, Attack of the Grey Lantern. It will be released via Kscope on June 8th 2018.

The album will be released on multiple formats including limited coloured vinyl, standard black vinyl, single CD and super-deluxe four-disc book set (including unreleased material on CD and a new 5.1 mix on DVD). It will also be available to stream on all digital platforms.

For most rock‘n’roll bands, the debut album is a chance to properly record their nascent songs – those scrappy, speedball numbers often written in the white heat of formation. For Mansun, back in 1996, things were a little different. Formed in Chester before coming of age at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, the band’s early ambitions marked them out as a very different prospect to their supposed peers. Their songs were mini-symphonies filtered through their perfectly British eccentricity, worked out in painstaking detail in the studio before ever being played on the stage. The lyrics told elaborate stories, followed paths and planted signposts.

When it emerged, Mansun’s debut – Attack of the Grey Lantern – was the complete picture. A record that opens with a Bond theme like orchestral overture before opening out as an interconnected voyeuristic, curtain-twitching concept album about a smalltown superhero, AOTGL was an almost incomprehensibly melodic work that embraced intelligence and nuance over the brute force and beery bonhomie of their contemporaries. When it was released at the height of Britpop, AOTGL reached No 1 (in February 1997) and achieved platinum sales thanks to a hugely dedicated fanbase.

Now twenty-one years on, the album has been fully overhauled for a gloriously deluxe reissue package remastered from the original multi-tracks by Jon Astley  and with the band and Paul’s longtime studio collaborator PDub creating the 5.1 remix. The CDs of extra material include previously unheard demo recordings, studio outtakes and long unheard BBC sessions recorded prior to the album’s release. This reissue campaign also sees the record remastered for vinyl for the first time since its original release.

Pre-order now –  http://found.ee/AOTGL_21ST_ANNIVERSARY

Attack of the Grey Lantern featured the hit singles Wide Open Space, Egg Shaped Fred, Taxloss and She Makes My Nose BleedMansun were Paul Draper (vocals, guitar, production), Dominic Chad (guitar, piano, synths), Stove (bass), Andie Rathbone (drums).

Mansun’s Paul Draper recently played a sold out tour of the UK playing Attack of the Grey Lantern in its entirety. Much of the album had never been performed live prior to these dates. Paul’s first solo album – Spooky Action – was released on Kscope to critical acclaim in August 2017, being described by Record Collector in a 5* review as “the perfect confection for the later days of the 2010s”. Paul sets off on his first ever solo tour of the States in April/May – the first time he has played US dates since the ’97 release of Attack of the Grey Lantern. Kscope took on the Mansun back catalogue in 2017, they plan to release expanded, deluxe editions of the band’s other albums – Six and Little Kix – in the future.

ATTACK OF THE GREY LANTERN (21st Anniversary remaster) tracklisting:

The Chad Who Loved Me
Mansun’s Only Love Song
Taxloss
You, Who Do You Hate?
Wide Open Space
Stripper Vicar
Disgusting
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Naked Twister
Egg Shaped Fred
Dark Mavis
DEMOS, RARITIES & OUTTAKES (CD)
 
Disgusting (Demo)
Rebel Without a Quilt (Original version)
Naked Twister (Demo)
Dark Mavis (Demo)
The Dutchess (Jam session)
Ski Jump Nose (Original version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Strings only)
The Chad Who Loved Me (Backing track take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Full length link version)
Dark Mavis (Rejected version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Version 1)
An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter (Take 1)
The Greatest Pain (Backing track take 1)
You, Who Do You Hate? (Early version)
She Makes My Nose bleed (Demo)
Egg Shaped Fred (Mix 1)
BBC SESSIONS (CD)
Skin Up Pin Up
Grey Lantern
14/09/1995   Radio One Session with John Peel
Flourella
Naked Twister
Drastic Sturgeon
15/05/1996   Radio One Session
Egg Shaped Fred
Take it Easy Chicken
12/11/1996   Soho Live Evening Session
Stripper Vicar
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Wide Open Space
The Chad Who Loved Me
Ski Jump Nose
16/12/1996   Radio One Session with Mark Radcliffe
DVD
Attack Of The Grey Lantern 5.1 SURROUND MIX/HIGH RES AUDIO MIX
 
VIDEOS
 
Flourella
Egg Shaped Fred
Take It Easy Chicken
Stripper Vicar
Wide Open Space
Wide Open Space (US version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Taxloss

 

Paul Draper (Mansun) announces details of new EP / UK tour starts this month

PAUL DRAPER – EP THREE 

Confirmed for release on 16th march 

“Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion”

1.    Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion (single version)

2.    Things People Want (acoustic)

3.    Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion (acoustic)

4.    Friends Make The Worst Enemies (Public Service Broadcasting Remix) 

Released digitally via Kscope on March 16th 2018 

EP Three is available to pre-order here: http://found.ee/PAUL_DRAPER_EP_THREE 

Paul Draper has announced details of a new EP release. EP Three features new versions and acoustic recordings of some of the stand out tracks from Draper’s acclaimed 2017 album Spooky Action. Lead track Jealously Is A Powerful Emotion is a tale of betrayal and coldly plotted revenge that builds from twisted, spectral electronics into a glorious swooping, swooning crescendo. Also featured on the EP are acoustic takes on Jealousy… and previous single Things People Want as well as epic overhaul of the EP Two lead track Friends Make The Worst Enemies by Public Service Broadcasting.

Paul Draper plays a series of previously announced shows in February and March. At those shows, Paul and his band will play a set of solo material before performing Mansun’s classic debut Attack of the Grey Lantern in full for the first time ever on the 21st anniversary of its release. The dates are:

Mon 19th Feb – Brighton, The Haunt (sold out)

Tues 20th Feb – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms

Weds 21st Feb – Bristol, Bierkellar

Fri 23rd Feb – Dublin, The Workman’s Club

Sat 24th Feb – Belfast, Limelight 2

Mon 26th Feb – Edinburgh, The Caves

Tues 27th Feb – Glasgow, The Art School

Thurs 1st Mar  – Manchester, O2 Ritz

Fri 2nd Mar – Sheffield, Leadmill

Sat 3rd Mar – Newcastle,  Riverside

Mon 5th Mar – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

Tues 6th Mar – Norwich, The Waterfront

Weds 7th Mar  – Oxford, O2 Academy

Thurs 8th Mar  – London, Brixton Electric

Following the UK shows, Paul Draper heads to the States to play a series of shows supporting Steven Wilson in North America in April/May. A limited edition signed vinyl LP – Live at Scala – will be available on the UK tour dates. The album features a recording of Paul’s recent sold out headline show at the iconic London venue. A CD version of the album will be available via independent record shops from February 16th 2018 or as a part of a double deluxe Spooky Action reissue.

 

Paul Draper (Mansun) announces ‘Spooky Action’ special edition with live album/ Mansun re-issues

Paul Draper has announced details of a special edition of his debut album ‘Spooky Action’. The two CD set features the original album alongside a disc capturing Paul’s triumphant headline show at London’s Scala (recorded on 21st September 2017). The gig was part of a sell-out solo tour, Paul’s first live shows since Mansun stopped touring in 2002. The gig featured tracks from ‘Spooky Action’ (featured in the Prog, Louder than War and Guardian writers end of year charts – “the perfect confection for the later days of the 2010s” Record Collector 5*,), his solo EPs and Mansun’sAttack of the Grey Lantern’ and ‘Little Kix’. The entire gig has been mixed by Paul’s long time collaborator P Dub.

Live at Scala features:

1.     The Silence is Deafening

2.     Don’t You Wait, It Might Never Come

3.     No Ideas

4.     Feeling My Heart Run Slow

5.     Things People Want

6.     Disgusting

7.     Friends Make The Worst Enemies

8.     Grey House

9.     Who’s Wearing The Trousers

10.  I Can Only Disappoint U

11.  Wide Open Space

12.  Don’t Poke The Bear

Spooky Action & Live at Scala will be available as a 2CD set on Kscope on 16th February 2018. A single disc of the live album will be available from independent shops and a very limited signed 2 x 12” vinyl edition will be sold exclusively on Paul’s forthcoming UK tour dates. At those shows, Paul and his band will play a set of solo material before performing Mansun’s classic debut Attack of the Grey Lantern in full for the first time ever on the 21st anniversary of its release. The dates are:

Mon 19th Feb      Brighton The Haunt (sold out)

Tues 20th Feb      Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

Weds 21st Feb    Bristol Bierkellar

Fri 23rd Feb           Dublin The Workman’s Club

Sat 24th Feb         Belfast Limelight 2

Mon 26th Feb      Edinburgh The Caves

Tues 27th Feb      Glasgow The Art School

Thurs 1st Mar      Manchester O2 Ritz

Fri 2nd Mar            Sheffield Leadmill

Sat 3rd Mar           Newcastle  Riverside

Mon 5th Mar        Nottingham Rescue Rooms

Tues 6th Mar        Norwich The Waterfront

Weds 7th Mar     Oxford O2 Academy

Thurs 8th Mar      London Brixton Electric

Paul Draper was the frontman of Mansun – one of the most iconic bands of the late ’90s. Over the course of three albums (a fourth issued posthumously), they achieved something unique – after fostering a fervent cult following, they managed to maintain critical and commercial success with a series of intensely radio friendly yet increasingly experimental records. Off the back of their biggest radio record, Mansun imploded in 2003 and Paul all but disappeared from view. 

Fast forward to 2017 when Paul released his long-awaited debut solo album, Spooky Action, on Kscope in the summerThe album was the result of a decade of thinking, tinkering, writing, recording and focusing.

Lyrically, biting and brutally honest – an autobiography set to captivating, addictive melody across eleven songs that peak then peak again, then peak again. Taking its cue from 2016’s two EP releases and recorded in collaboration with Catherine AD (The Anchoress) and long time Mansun collaborator PDub, The record’s eleven tracks veer from warped voodoo psych (Don’t Poke the Bear) to glistening synthetic soul (Things People Want); from warped, razor wire rock’n’roll (Grey House) to glorious widescreen analogue pop music (Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion). Collectively, they represent Paul’s strongest, most consistent set of songs to date – half a lifetime’s work condensed into just over an hour of perfectly formed music.

2017 also saw Kscope acquire the rights to Mansun’s back catalogue. The ground-breaking label will roll out a reissue campaign over eighteen months that will cover the band’s entire history and enhance their reputation as one of the most iconic and innovative bands of the 90s.

Mansun’s four albums – ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ (1997), ‘Six’ (1998), ‘Little Kix’ (2000) and the compilation ‘Kleptomania’ (2004) – were originally issued by Parlophone. The Kscope reissues will bring these classic records into the modern age by delving into a treasure trove of previously unreleased audio and visual material while fully remastering the original recordings for 5.1 and deluxe 180gm vinyl. This campaign will begin with ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’, to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the album’s release.