"Time for a Change" - Ray Wilson's latest albums reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
"It's been a long, long time; hasn't it?" As the song goes but here at last is a look back at the albums which Ray has released since his "Unplugged" album. Ray's song writing skills were never really in doubt and the Cut album demonstrated quite clearly that Ray could indeed write songs with his own particular stamp on them.
Change, his first proper solo album was issued in 2003 and contains a brilliant showcase of his own songs from the whistful Goodbye Baby Blue and several more tracks which mix acoustic and rock elements in equal measures. Ray is in fine voice on this album and his vocal style easily marks him out as a singer with his own identity among so many clones of other artists - that is his greatest strength along with an excellent ear for great tunes and song ideas.
The limited edition of the album was accompanied by a bonus live disc which is an equally enjoyable mix of Ray's own solo material accompanied by a few of the highlights from his time in Genesis and material from Cut and Stiltskin as well making this an ideal musical CV of Ray's career to date as well as reinforcing just how accomplished a performer Ray is in his own right.
Ray Wilson: Change Inside Out Records 6 93723 00262 0
Intro/Goodbye Baby Blue/Change/Along The Way/Yesterday/Beach/Cry If You Want To/Beautiful Child/She Fades Away/I Look For You There/Believe/Another Day/The Last Horizon/Gouranga/Dark/Cool Water.
The Next Big Thing, is Ray's most recent studio album, released last year. Building on the success of Change, this is an extemely adventurous album taking musical chances and risks to bring challenges to his audience. These Are The Changes is an indictment of political cynicism and the stupidity of nationalism and war. Ray revisits his time in Stiltskin with an abrasive re-working of their hit Inside. Most of the songs on this album are written with an observant eye and a cynical twist even the cod-U2 styled How High doesn't remit the feeling of restrained anger which colours much of the material on this album. Adolescent Breakdown; a B Side from the first Cut album has definite echoes of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps which does not of itself make it a bad track either while The Actor definitely has its roots in the situation that Ray found himself in after the Genesis "gig" ended in tears. In fact, this album has the same kind of angst to it as Phil Collins' first solo album. No bad thing to get your emotions out in the open and perhaps this is Ray's musical "diary". Either way, it is chock full of great performances; crafted songs and great lyrics - an album that all music fans will enjoy.
Ray Wilson: The Next Best Thing Inside Out Records 6 93723 60782
These Are The Changes/Inside/How High/The Fool In Me/Adolescent Breakdown/ Sometimes/Alone/Magic Train/The Actor/Ever The Reason/Pumpkinhead/The Next Best Thing.
Since the release of The Next Best Thing, Ray has been on his travels to many parts of the world including an extensive tour of South America and extensive tours of Europe although sadly, no gigs here in the UK, where interest in Ray's music seems to be sadly lacking. Anyone who has heard his latest double live album or managed to get hold of the live broadcast from PR3 in Warsaw will tell you what a shame it is that he hasn't been able to get regular gigs closer to home. Both of these recordings showcase Ray's developing talent as a songwriter of note as well as a great raconteur and all-round performer with a fine line in self-deprecating humour.
Ray Wilson: Live Sandport Ltd
The Last Horizon/These Are The Changes/Goodbye Baby Blue/In The Air Tonight/Carpet Crawlers/Ever the Reason/Story/Follow You Follow Me/Sarah/ Change/Another Day/Magic Train/Sunshine And Butterflies/Inside/Footsteps/I Can't Dance/Gypsy/The Actor/Alone/Ripples/Along The Way/Biko/Lover's Leap/No Son Of Mine/Shipwrecked/Not About Us/Sometimes/The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway/Swing Your Bag/Knockin' On Heaven's Door/The Airport Song/Rest In Peace.
All of the albums mentioned in this feature are highly recommended, and only go to show what a mistake it was for the guys in Genesis to close that book without giving Ray a better chance to prove himself. On these showings, the end results would have been extremely enjoyable and I am sure that Ray's future projects will bring him great and deserved success!