Sunday, September 02, 2018

Gilbert O'Sullivan: We Will

In 1973, Gilbert O'Sullivan was a piano-playing superstar on a par with Elton John. Today, he is maybe mentioned in the same breath as Clifford T. Ward - which means he is barely thought of at all.
So wrote Bob Stanley in the Guardian three years ago.

O'Sullivan has been spoken of a bit more this summer because he has a new album out, but it is true that, not helped by the Bisto Kid image he insisted upon, he has been unfairly written off by history as irredeemably naff. Think of it as Leo Sayer Syndrome.

Yet as Stanley went on to say:
I was knocked sideways when I heard his 1971 single We Will a few years ago, when my life was in a bit of a state. Here was a song of resigned melancholy about how to get through a personal crisis by appreciating things such as kicking a ball, visiting distant relatives, eating corn flakes. It was extraordinary, just what I needed, and I listened to it before I went to bed every night. 
Feeling like I owed him something, I went to see O'Sullivan at Croydon's Fairfield Hall earlier this year and thought: no wonder he's bitter. Smart kitchen-sink lyrics, super melodic songs, his new stuff just as good as his old; if he'd never had a hit, or worn an oversize flat cap, he'd be hailed as our own Randy Newman - one who references tea (frequently) and frozen peas (occasionally). At his best, he is the missing link between the Kinks and Squeeze.

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