Burns' Night


Jake Burns' Big Wheel

Leadmill, Sheffield


Who would have believed it! Not only does the crafty Burns' boy shy away from the obvious temptation to surface with a Stiff Little Fingers mark two, but he has the audacity to come up with something totally out of the blue. Something startlingly different to the cul-de-sac tunnel vision of SLF.

Say hello to the new Squeeze! With his Big Wheel Jake Burns waves an abrupt goodbye to the laboured gravity - the slogans, the clenched fists and the ultimate Pessimism that SLF came to epitomise. And in its place he canvasses vigorously with a marvelously polarised doctrine- an uncomplicated, easy-going, no-hassles pop manifesto!

Big Wheel turned me upside down with their surprisingly sharp focus brand of pure pop, fine harmonies and abundant commerciality. They're the closest we'll ever get to seeing the eternally wonderful Squeeze in action again; and they're as far from SLF as you could imagine.

Thankfully Jake Burns has exorcised that phantom once and for all. Ditching the futile aggression and empty rhetoric, he has found a new, simpler side to his music. But let's not play down the absolute courage of his move. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to get back on that stage with a surrogate SLF and thrash out the old standards. Instead, Burns' has purged himself of that period to the point of extremity. The only perfunctory nod to SLF's barbed wire obsessions comes when the DJ plays "Alternative Ulster", before the Big Wheel starts rolling.

The new material soon proves remarkably worthwhile. Big Wheel operate from a solid rock base - Lightning drums, booming bass, cheeky guitar and Steve Nieve style keyboards - and concentrate extensively upon filtering clear, polished vocals in between the mix.

Songs like the witty "Life in the Capital" and the juicy "In The Company of Strangers" have the stamp of a finely crafted pop sensibility. All the while Burns' and his cohorts are cramming the stage with outrageous dances and irrepressible smiles - like the rascals of Rockpile once did - and encouraging everyone to have a good time. Indeed, the only let down was when Burns' went slightly over the top in his efforts to please, and it all began to sound patronising.

Still, Big Wheel haven't got the world on their shoulders like SLF - indeed during "Shake It Off" Burns' declares "This is a song about drinking too much" Now can you imagine SLF concerning themselves with something like that?


Frank Worrall


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