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The Coventry Leg of the Whole Wide World, Wreckless Eric - Just Dropped In Records

Wreckless Eric - Photograph by David Court

Wreckless Eric – Just Dropped In Records, November 19 2023

Review by David Court

‘Wreckless Eric’ (Eric Goulden) was one of the original label-members of Elvis Costello and Ian Dury on Stiff Records back in the 1970s. The story behind this epochal punk and new-wave label is as fascinating as that of the artists themselves, and it left a huge legacy.

Eric himself had a huge hit in 1977 with ‘Whole Wide World’, a song that Mojo magazine included in its list of the best punk rock singles of all time. It’s been covered by dozens of artists in the intervening years, including label-mate ‘Elvis Costello and the Attractions’, ‘The Monkees’ and ‘The Proclaimers’. He’s been performing ever since, having left Stiff in the eighties to tour Europe and the States, releasing a spate of albums.

Now he’s back with ‘Leisureland’, his 2023 contemplative album about the decaying seaside towns that litter our coast. A ruminative work, we’ll be treated to a few tracks from it tonight. ‘Dropped In Records’ at Fargo village hosts one of the final gigs of his tour, and it’s a full house of a crowd of a certain age, most of us grey enough to have seen punk first time around or at least old enough to have witnessed the ripples from the movement.

Neil Ingram - Photograph by David Court

Coventry’s own Neil Ingram is on support duties, providing an entertaining selection of eighties covers. Neil is always a delight, and indeed Eric himself sings his praises during his own act – commending his support act for his bright, elegant, and upbeat set and for not ‘whining on for half an hour’ (!). It sets the scene nicely for the act to come when Eric arrives on stage.

Laughing about the relative lack of slickness to his act (“I should have six readily tuned guitars and a big man”) Eric is nonetheless in fine form. Still performing just as passionately and as tuneful as he was fifty years back, it’s easy to understate just how darned funny the man is. The songs may be heart-breaking, but Eric himself is an absolute gem, absolutely breaking down the typical air of pretention between act and audience.

A consummate artist and showman, he takes every opportunity to regale the eager crowd with a variety of tales – a myriad of topics including bemoaning the onset of old age, of touring the states, Art School and 'The Specials', his mothers’ Alzheimer’s, being labelled a ‘prophet’ – touching, bitter-sweet, but never anything less than captivating and hilarious. He’s a joy to watch perform, and the night is an absolute belter.

‘Whole Wide World’ is his penultimate track, and the love for him from the audience is noticeable as he performs it. However, that’d be too predictable and upbeat an ending considering the nature of the rest of the gig, so the closing track is the considerably more sombre ‘The Half of it’. A perfect ending to a fantastic night.

Wreckless Eric - Photograph by David Court

More information can be found about Eric here, and more details on event organisers ‘Sink or Swim’ Promotions can be found here. Details on ‘Just Dropped in Records’ can be found here.


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