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Hold On: The Very Best of Ian Gomm

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Album Review

Apart from a German collection called Come On in 1997, Ian Gomm's solo albums have not been compiled prior to Cherry Red's 2005 overview Hold On: The Very Best of Ian Gomm. This 20-track collection begins with Gomm's departure from Brinsley Schwarz and follows him from his 1978 debut, Summer Holiday, to 2001's Rock 'n' Roll Heart. While the excellent liner notes mention some intriguing detours in Gomm's career — in a desperate attempt to get signed to the seminal indie label Stiff, he cut a punk single under the assumed name the Filth, only to have it rejected; in the late '90s, he wrote and sang several albums of football songs — Hold On sticks to the straight and narrow, drawing several highlights from his proper albums. Most of the comp is devoted to his three records of the late '70s and early '80s — Summer Holiday (released in the U.S. under the wonderful title Gomm with the Wind in 1979), 1980's What a Blow, and 1982's The Village Voice — which makes sense, since that was when he was an active recording and touring artist at the peak of his popularity. As a solo act, Gomm pursued a blend of old-time rock & roll and British Invasion pop not at all dissimilar to Brinsley Schwarz's last two albums, and his solo records fell somewhere between his former colleague Nick Lowe's tuneful, song-oriented new wave, and Dave Edmunds' polished, updated retro pop. Gomm also veered toward soft rock on occasion, most notably on "Hold On," which gave him a Top 20 American hit in 1979, and that tendency toward slick production dates the recordings here slightly, even if the music itself is appealing; it's well-constructed tuneful pop/rock that will please any fan of pub rock, power pop, and roots rock. This isn't flashy music, but that's its charm — it's sturdy, melodic, and friendly, built on classic rock & roll and guitar pop, well written and well performed. That's the consistent thread throughout Gomm's career, from his pub rock beginnings through his soft rock and new wave phases, right up until his endearingly low-key albums cut in Nashville. Hold On: The Very Best of Ian Gomm proves this, thereby acting as both an excellent overview and introduction to this underrated singer/songwriter.

Biography

Born: 17 March 1947 in Chiswick, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Perhaps best known as one of the guitarists/vocalists for the seminal pub rock group Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm began his career in music as an apprentice in EMI's mechanical and engineering departments. During his five years with the label, Gomm also fronted several R&B-inspired trios, opening for bands such as the Who, the Move, and Pink Floyd. By 1970, Gomm was ready to pursue playing music full-time; he quit his job at EMI on a Friday and was playing with Brinsley Schwarz by Monday. Gomm's...
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