Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Freddy Adu of Music

Echoboy - Broken Hearts

I read a brilliant feature on goal.com about the Top 10 Lost Talents of the Decade in the world of football and it got me thinking about who were the great lost musical talents of the decade? Who was the Freddy Adu of music in the Noughties? I kept coming back to one person - Rich Warren. Now that's not to say that he didn't make some absolutely incredible music throughout the decade, but in terms of the size of his talent and potential, you'd have to say that his story is one of no hits and near misses.

Rich Warren was a prodigy; a fantastically talented songwriter and guitarist who had been in various bands since he was a teenager. He signed his first deal with Heavenly as one-third of the Hybirds in 1996, when Britpop was at its peak. Like most bands at that time there was a huge buzz of anticipation surrounding the Hybirds - retro-rockers carved in the image of the Jam and the Who, with Rich's inspired riffing elevating it above the dross - but they only released one album in 1997, and split at the end of the decade.

Following this false start, Rich holed up with an 8-track and a Casio and set about creating new worlds from above his mum's hair salon in Nottingham under the Echoboy moniker. He signed to Mute at the start of the Noughties and his debut album (Volume 1) was critically acclaimed and adored by me. I've posted Broken Hearts above - the point at which a supergroup featuring members of Neu!, Kraftwerk and Spiritualized come together to make some of the most affecting instrumental music you are ever likely to hear. The whole album is a belter. He made two more albums for Mute, including the brilliant Giraffe, which was produced by Flood. His last outing as Echoboy was Elektrik Soul Psymphonie in 2006.

In 2003, Noel Gallagher asked Rich to join Oasis. He declined, leading to The Sun headline: "He's not mad for it - he's just mad!" (Andy Bell eventually got the nod but it's a decision Rich doesn't regret). He played bass for Spiritualized for a while and also played guitar for Starsailor and Soulsavers, co-writing two songs on the latter's acclaimed 2009 album Broken. All extremely noteworthy achievements for any jobbing guitarist but a man of Rich's talents should be centre stage - the midfield playmaker, not in the holding role. Zidane, not Makelele. But unlike footballers, the careers of musicians don't necessarily fade with age so there's still hope that Rich's talent will be truly realised - and appreciated. In 2010, he's releasing an album under his own name for the first time - step forward mate, the spotlight awaits...

Buy Echoboy from Norman Records - Volume 1 is availble for the ludicrously cheap price of £4.99!
Echoboy website
Echoboy MySpace

[PS Haloscan have started charging for their comments service and I can't import the old comments into Blogger (or work out how to switch it back to Blogger's basic comment service. So until I work this out (any help much appreciated), all feedback or requests can be directed to me at joeclay23 [at] hotmail.com. Ta!]