David Sinclair FourDavid Sinclair Four
Album: 4
Label: Critical Discs
Tracks: 10

When I saw David Sinclair, in 2012, his band was a three piece, appropriately known as The David Sinclair Three. DS3 at that time comprised David on lead guitar and vocals, George Andrew on bass and backing vocals and a variety of different drummers, depending on availability, quite often with David’s son Jack. Jack, however, had his own band and was fully employed Mastering records, so when I saw them, Brent Keefe was standing in for Jack. The attached video of “Coming Off The Rails” dates from this time and, as was often the case. The video is thus a couple of years old, and is of a completely different line up, but I felt it a valid video to include with this review as when it was recorded,“Coming Off The Rails” was a new track, and now appears for the first time on the new album.

In 2013, George Andrew emigrated to Los Angeles, and was replaced by Jos Mendoza on bass and Geoff Peel as a second guitarist, and so DS3 became the David Sinclair Four. Jack remains on drums, at least in the studio.

4 is the first album released in this line up as DS4, but is the fourth album for a David Sinclair line-up, DS3 having released “Hey” in 2006, “Threewheeling” in 2008 and “Take Me There” in 2011.

David Bowie famously changed his name from David Jones to avoid confusion with the lead singer of the Monkees. Harry H. Corbet (Steptoe and Son) famously added the middle initial “H for Hanything you want” to distinguish himself from the Harry Corbet who was Sooty’s puppeteer. David Sinclair, however, had already made his name in the media as a reviewer in the Sunday Times, before breaking into the musical world, and so was unable to change his name to distinguish himself from the more famous Dave Sinclair from the Canterbury Prog scene (perhaps most famous as the keyboard player with Caravan who wrote their epics “For Richard” and “Nine Feet Underground”.)

I do therefore need to stress before advising you to rush out and buy 4, or before advising you to rush out and see DS4 live, that this is DAVID Sinclair and not DAVE Sinclair. Not that you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Very much enjoyed seeing DS3 live back in 2013, and very much enjoyed listening to 4, but the music is very definitely blues and not prog.

Being a Sunday Times journalist, and having a son working for a recording studio does have its advantages. David has managed to attract some very well known names as guest musicians on this album, including Maxi Priest who sings on "Down By The Canal" and Paul Jones plays harmonica on "World Turns Around" and "Coming Off The Rails". "Coming Out Of The Rain" was co-written by, and sung as a duet with Lorna Reid, and the album was produced by the legendary multi-instrumentalist session musician turned producer Livingstone Brown who also added keyboards and percussion throughout.

Many of these songs feel as if they are autobiographical. In fact, this album is almost a concept album, as the majority of the tracks share the theme of having a mid-life crisis.

The opening track, "Sick Of Being Good", as its title suggests, is about his frustrations of having to conform to the accepted norm. He'd like to misbehave, and swear, but amusingly, to emphasise how tied he is to convention, when he sings 'I couldn't give a ..." the expletive is deleted.

"The Click Clack Man" is in memorial to an itinerant musician, who travelled across America, playing music. Afraid I've no idea who he was, but he seems to have been a close acquaintance of David's.

Maybe it was the frustrations of conforming (track 1) or the loss of a friend (track 2) but the third track, "A Life Gone Cold", (a true blues song, even down to including the line 'woke up this morning'), describes the sudden realisation that you haven't achieved everything in life that you thought you should have done. From then on, the majority of the songs seem to be based around either recollections of a more innocent time, or of hedonism: 'I like to hang round midnight bars'- "Crude Emotion"; 'Now no one knows what time will bring, but late last night I heard the Angels sing' - "World Turns Around"and so on. The title of the final track, "Coming Off The Rails" pretty much sums up the theme of the song: collapse from conformity to debauchery.

But I have a theory. Singing songs about hanging around red light bars and falling in love with girls half your age is, I admit, pretty rock 'n' roll, but a little weird when your own son is in the band. So I suspect that these songs aren't quite as autobiographical as I first thought. They are probably a form of therapy. A way of staving off a mid-life crisis by singing about the dangers that might happen without a little care. Yes, David might be sick of being good, but it's better than coming off the rails. A valuable lesson to everyone of a certain age.

So all told, not just a really good blues album, but a life lesson for us all. Well those of us who'll never see forty again.

Pete Bradley