Chas the soloist

Dec 2018 Chas the soloist

Talking Elephant Records, TECD138, 2009

By John Firminger

STILL remembering the much admired Chas Hodges, to reiter­ate Mike Berry’s comments in his tribute to his pal, Chas really was a musical genius.

He certainly displayed that in many ways during his career. A perfect example is the solo self-titled album he cut in 2009 which I’d actually over-looked but deserves the attention of you BEATsters.

Completely solo with all the songs written by Chas, who also played all the instruments; key­boards, bass, Fender Telecaster, acoustic guitar, mandolin and his Uncle Alf’s old banjo, all of which demonstrated what a mountain of a talent he was.

The only other musician involved is Chas’s grandaughter Charlie, who contributes some sax here and there.

Intimate affair

All self-produced and engi­neered in his own home-studio, it’s quite an intimate affair, with some of the songs being either autobiographical or about some­body that Chas had known. Obviously a few of the songs bear a resemblance to Chas and Dave’s songs with their sing-along qualities, but that’s a com­pliment to Chas and the style of music he helped to create.

Set to a Jerry Lee-like rocker Didn’t Want To Do It In The Place, with piano and Chas also adding some fine electric guitar. The autobiographical No Set List is a bit of a skiffler with acoustic guitar and mandolin. The slow, languid I’m Outa Here is written about someone Chas worked with in the past.

Also ‘largely autobiographical’, according to Chas, The Ghost Is laid with some nice electric piano emphasising the song’s melody .

Chas recalls In Among The Sweet Things as ‘probably the first song he wrote on his own after ceasing to write with Dave Peacock, who also gave the song his approval: a gentle swinger about going out and meeting some of the ‘sweet things’ and again has an obvious Chas & Dave flavour.

Skinny Cats was inspired by an old folk tale that Chas once heard on radio, and rolls along with some fairground organ sounds plus some sax added from Charlie.

With its almost classical intro Don’t Want No Truck is like most of the songs on this album, sung in Chas’s distinct cockney dia­lect, which of course adds to their appeal.

The lilting Poor Man Down is a humorous song about how girls put down some of men’s feeble chat-up lines.

On Hungarian Rhapsody Rock Chas shows off his skills on his Pumpin’ piano with a touch of B Bumble & The Stingers as he rocks up the classical Liszt piece.

Making Up For Lost Time is a mid-tempo love song and inspired by one of Chas and wife Joan’s trip to the Mermaid Inn, in Rye.

Nobody’s Gonna Pine is right in a Chas & Dave groove, with its quick tempo and rapid-fire lyr­ics with Chas adding some banjo.

On She’s Turnin’ Monkey On Me, Chas brings out his old 1959 Hofner bass, and sounding really effective on this piece of Chas Hodges Poetry.

With overdubbed harmonies and mandolin, Last Kiss has a gentle latin flavour and a song marking the end of a relationship.

A self-contained affair, Chas himself was really pleased with the way this album had turned out and it’s a great tribute to the man and his musicianship.