On October 23rd, the news that 70s glamrocker Bernard William Jewry, better known as Alvin Stardust, had passed away swept across social media in next to no time. What less people were aware of, however, is that his next album – simply titled Alvin – was due to be released on 3rd of November; due to the circumstances, this has been moved forward to 27th October. The record is his most personal and steps far away from the name he made for himself previously, with the singer/songwriter side to his work shining through.
His manager Andy Davies said, “Alvin and I had only started working together over the last couple of years because he and I believed that musically he still had a great deal to give and explore and so we recorded an album that is a testament to an artist who gave his career to music. I may not have known him long but even in that short time he proved to be one of the most genuine and likeable men I’ve ever met; his passing is a huge and sad loss”.
From opening track Robbery there’s no mistake in the change to his work; calmer and understated, the vocals lead over a simplistic and abstract backing. Alvin’s raspy voice suits the sub-two minute opener perfectly, and set the tone for the album with perfect clarity, before one of the album’s many standout tracks takes the focus – Tongue Tied. This significantly more personal song displays a romanticism that takes a strong grip on the record, with the distinct vocals bringing it into its own.
Now That I’ve Found You Again builds at atmospheric opening, once again the vocals perfectly fitting the mood of the piece. Gradually building up with backing following his lead, this hauntingly beautiful track gradually intertwines electric and vibrant instrumental. Slowing the pace down again, Did Somebody Make A Fool Out Of You feels suited for a smoky bar or western film – his direct address ropes the listener into the track, smothering you in the haze.
Using his voice to the peak of its dexterity, Alvin’s voice melts into the instrumental of Whiskey Sweat, and makes it as my personal favourite off the record for it. Again, the cowboy-western hints are present, as in Still Haven’t Seen You Cry, where you feel roped into the wonderful lyricism. The intimate opening of It Had To Be You comes in with an almost Mick Jagger-esque sound, the sort to slow dance to or close an evening with. Personal and romantic, it’s a true love song.
Big Jack makes it with a more unusual start, a motorbike gives way to another smoky bar song, mellowed out and dance worthy. The abstract hints return in Always In The Rain with incongruous sounds setting the piece apart, and layered vocals deepening the atmospheric track in an incredibly sobering manner, before closing Lovin’ You Till I Die gives a wonderful finale. The most romantic off the record and frankly honest, it’s impossible not to be touched by this piece.