When I first encountered the debut (and currently sole) album from Silver Ginger 5, 2000’s Black Leather Mojo I was still relatively new to the work of their leader, Ginger Wildheart, and, if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure what to think of it.
That was when the album was re-released in the UK in 2005 (with a track list mirroring the original Japanese release) and since then more than a few of the tracks have become firm favourites of mine in his ever expanding oeuvre but it’s a while since I gave the album a listen in full.
While the current global pandemic situation hasn’t given me as much free time as some (and in many ways for that I’m thankful) I have still decided to take the opportunity, when I can, to properly listen back some records I’ve not heard in a while and this was the first to spring to mind.
In many ways it’s a record of two halves and, as it blasts off with Sonic Shake, Ginger and co (in this case with Random Jon Poole on bass, Conny Bloom on lead guitar and, on record at least, Bladz, aka Andy Selway, on drums) we are launched into a kind of glam rock that mixes the best of the early 1970s with huge pop hooks and a production reminiscent of 90s industrial and hard rock.
This sound marks the first half of the record with further highlights coming in the form of Divine Imperfection, Anyway But Maybe and Brain Sugar.
The second half of the record then becomes more varied and takes on something of the feel of Ginger’s solo records from Valor Del Corazon onwards.
While there are excursions into semi-acoustic fare such as Inside Out and much heavier stuff like I Wanna Be New, or the frankly demented Too Many Hippies (In The Garden Of Love), the production and a hint of glam just about manage or tie it all together.
In that Church Of The Broken Hearted is a kind of ‘gutter glam’ ballad and centre point of the second half before an unlikely cover of The Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody closes the record on a track that sounds like it could have, in a better world, got huge festival crowds singing along.
Upon doing a bit of digging it should probably have been no surprise to find that the production of the record was handled by Cardiacs’ Tim Smith and, while at first it gives the album something of an awkwardly impenetrable edge, it actually ends up giving it an identity which ties it to much of Ginger’s later work both with The Wildhearts and away from them.
This all makes for an album that, to my mind at least, could easily have launched a band capable of filling large venues with epic singalongs as, despite the noise, the tracks are packed with poppy moments perfect for reaching a big cross over audience.
Of course this was the one album the band released and it wasn’t long before The Wildhearts were back together for the …Must Be Destroyed album but nonetheless Black Leather Mojo remains a fine slice of eccentric but highly enjoyable glam rock and more.