GUN — The Calton Songs (Cherry Red Records)
Looking for a lovingly curated, refreshingly leftfield look back at the career of Glaswegian rockers Gun?
Look no further than The Calton Songs.
On the face of it, ‘acoustic reinterpretations’ of the band’s classic hits could have fallen awkwardly flat.
Rebooting fan favourites might have come across as lazily cashing in on a celebrated legacy.
And does anybody really want to hear bona fide foot-stompers Better Days, Inside Out and Steal Yor Fire stripped back and turned down?
They do now.
You see, the Gizzi bros. have somehow breathed new life into Gun’s chart-busting bangers.
A bold approach to revisiting the band’s bulging back catalogue has reaped untold rewards.
And The Calton Songs emerges as something way, way cooler than its rather downbeat title suggests.
That title refers to the area of Glasgow where Gun’s founder members found their feet.
It’s a part of town where the Gizzis still do the bulk of their best work.
And it’s no coincidence that The Calton’s also home to the famous Barrowlands music venue and bustling Barras street market.
If this record was supposed to tap into the area’s rich history and reputation for creativity then it’s job done.
There’s a gritty realism and a refreshing honesty underpinning The Calton Songs’ finest moments.
And the Gizzis deserve great credit for gambling on a project always guaranteed to raise eyebrows.
In fact, this record’s only served to raise the bar. Gun never sounded so good.
Gun hits the target with reworked classics
That The Calton Songs kicks off with summer 2022 single Backstreet Brothers is brave in itself.
There’s nothing stripped back about a fully plugged-in anthem showcasing the Gizzis at their brazen best.
And this compilation’s whirlwind of an opening track sounds nothing like what’s to come.
What does come next is just the first surprise of many.
Back in the day Better Days was a pacy, upbeat and impossibly optimistic crowd pleaser.
And those in thrall of the original — the first of 14 Top 75 singles — might recoil at this year’s carefully reworked version.
Or they might sit up, take notice and celebrate a sublime reinterpretation of standout track that’s clearly stood the test of time.
Taking On The World, in retrospect the Gun song best suited to a fully acoustic reboot, sounds even better than the original.
Higher Ground sounds similarly spectacular given its sparkling 2022 makeover featuring The Sisterhood.
And even Word Up — the Cameo cover that delivered Gun their biggest hit — works a treat within The Calton Songs’ relatively rigid framework.
It’s five years since Jools and Dante Gizzi dropped Favourite Pleasures on an unsuspecting public and a follow-up to that Top 16 album is in the works.
But don’t dismiss The Calton Songs as a mere stopgap release or some kind of ill-advised vanity project.
It’s a record that’s both redolent and relevant, richly rewarding and refreshingly random.
Thirty five years down the line, Gun’s still having a blast.