So if I hadn’t heard of The Claim and knew not the full title of the album, would I know whether this was a new band or indeed, which decade this music belonged?
The music has undeniable roots in sixties British pop of The Beatles , early beat generation of The Who & swinging sixties of The Kinks, but equally the suave lyrical-humour of Morrissey, the jangle guitar-led music of The Smiths and the mod-influenced post-punk angst of The Jam.
But with that throw in the anti-rock sound of The Subway Sect and the essence of the very British grittiness of a black & white kitchen sink drama, and the storytelling element of folk music.
That said, I would say the music of The Claim squarely belongs to the 1980’s. But that’s not to say this retrospective isn’t welcome in 2009. It merely suggests that four young men intent on finding their own way in the music industry, more concerned with their own music output than what’s going on around them, and prepared to say ‘no’ to record label bosses and producers, are even less likely to make an impression in the Big Pop Brother Factor X entertainment industry which is taking less chances now than ever before, when it comes to allowing new music to ripen ingredients such as artistic freedom, expression and individualism; all things that gave The Claim lasting integrity but stifled their chances when it came to playing by the rules.
The Claim sound as great today as they did at the height of their popularity. Songs like God Cliffe & Me, Down By The Chimney and the perfect pop single Mrs. Shepherd make me smile as I listen once more to the pure Englishness of The Claim. If only Dave Read had listened to very good advice in 1978 from his guitar teacher to forget listening to The Stranglers and that Steve Howe of Yes was the way forward!
Dave Read and The Claim could have been Wembley Stadium-filling prog rockers. Fortunately they never listened to anyone, ever.
Black Path is a wonderful collection of 25 individual songs sharper than The Claim dress sense, even. This collection includes tracks from two albums Armstrong’s Revenge & Eleven Other Short Stories and Boomy Tella, two twelve inch releases, five singles and a sprinkle of previously unreleased tracks including the (much better) demo version of the single Wait & See.
Uncompromising, wonderful British garage pop!
It’s easy and possibly cheap to write that The Claim should have ‘made it’ as part of the British indie garage jangle guitar-led pop scene of the mid-1980’s. But the truth is, for whatever reason, they didn’t. But at least now we have this retrospective album release seventeen years after their demise and some very warm, nostalgic memories.
The Claim – Black Path: Retrospective 1985 – 1992 tracklist:
1. Picking Up The Bitter Little Pieces
2. Birth Of A Teenager
3. Plastic Grip
4. Say So
5. Mike The Bike (Featuring Vic Templar)
7. Being A Minor
8. Between Heaven And Woolworths (For Brian Patten)
9. Gullible Stravels
10. Not So Simple Sharon Says
12. God, Cliffe And Me
14. Sporting Life
16. Mrs Shepherd
18. Do You Still Feel?
19. Down By The Chimney
20. Lonely Tarts
21. Love Letter
22. Wait And See
23. Mary Stavin
24. Seen And Done It All
25. Losers Corner
The Claim – Black Path: Retrospective 1985 – 1992 is available on Rev-ola through Cherry Red Records.