Hugh Cornwell Moments of madness

Hugh Cornwell Hugh Cornwell Moments of madness

Moments Of Madness (Townsend Music) LP/CD/DL

Released: 21st October 2022 available here


Cornwell shows he still knows his way around a great tune.

We spoke to Hugh Cornwell last month about this, his tenth album, and he explained the process around the recording. Moments Of Madness, like his previous release Monster, was entirely played and produced by Cornwell. The recording method he uses now is to take germs of songs, half completed songs, and work them up in the studio. What this does, as can be seen on Moments of Madness, is create an immediacy, a rock n roll rough edge to the songs that generates excitement.

The tone is set on album opener, Coming Out Of The Wilderness. It’s a COVID lockdown song, that is driven by a great rock riff, rugged as the hair on a wild man’s face, that could easily have come from the 50s or 60s. This is Cornwell getting back to his rock roots, discovering the power of bass, guitar and drums, sans keyboards. But there is no looking back with regret. On the incredibly catchy When I Was A Young Man, Cornwell feels pity for those who are young now. The song hurtles along like an out of control train, like time passing.

There are touches of sixties psychedelia on the Doors tinged Looking For You and 50s noir on Beware Of The Doll, with a wonderfully creepy cool guitar riff, and there is a first solo attempt at reggae on the title track (The Stranglers never really did a full on reggae song, though Peaches and Nice N Sleazy were pseudo reggae) which is full of Edward Lear like nonsense verse. Lyrically, Cornwell is as clever as ever, showing his love of words, like on the song Lasagne, a song about finding the best Italian food in Mexico: Lasagna La Vida/Monica Bologna! And the line on Beware Of The Doll with its clever double meaning: You’re sinking from a foot above.

Cornwell gets on his soapbox on the song Trash, and you can’t disagree with his assertion about English litterbugs, and muses on tattoos on Red Rose. He also ponders the state of the world on songs like Iwannahideinsideya, where he describes life as being like a journey on a ship, a metaphor he has often used before to great effect. Album closer, Heartbreak At Seven, with its cool 60’s groove, shows how love can still take us by surprise, to raise us up and smack us down: It’s like drawing straws every time that you open the door.

Looking back now, over Cornwell’s solo career, since leaving the Stranglers back in 1990, there are some great albums, like 1997’s Guilty and 2000’s Hi-Fi, but all of his releases have highlights and interesting moments. After going out on his own, he appears to have taken a few years to find his groove, but when he did the freedom, enjoyment and curiosity of his work blossomed. Moments Of Madness, a call back to his rock roots, is a late flowering classic from a man who has always known how to write a damn good tune. Hugh Cornwell, by his own admission, may never have been a young man of rock, but he has certainly always created songs of vigour, with a mischievous, youthful glint in his eye.




You can find Hugh Cornwell online here, on Twitter, YouTube and on Facebook.



All words by Mark Ray. More writing by Mark Ray can be found at his author archive. And he can be found on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress

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