Ellis Beggs & Howard - Homelands

Published Wednesday 15th December 2021
Ellis Beggs & Howard - Homelands
Ellis Beggs & Howard - Homelands

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

When this album first came out in 1988 I was pondering as to what "Christian music" actually was. I knew Nick Beggs when he was in Kajagoogoo, when he was possibly the best-known musical Christian in Britain, talking about his faith in the tabloids and in Buzz magazine. Much was to subsequently happen to Beggs after his brush with pop stardom - like Ellis, Beggs & Howard. When 'Homelands' was re-issued in 2013 the bass-playing maestro said, "This is an '80s album but it doesn't sound like one, which I like. It's the volte-face of Kajagoogoo's 'White Feathers'. Was this deliberate? Maybe, in that we all felt we couldn't reference Kajagoogoo in any way." The "we" included soul-into-rock singer Austin Howard and Simon Ellis (who went on to be a very successful producer/songwriter/keys man MDing the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Belinda Carlisle). 'Homelands' offered Beggsy's superlative work on a custom-built Wal five string bass and his renowned Chapman stick. His playing shone like a beacon on this impressive funky pop rock set. The album went on to be a hit in Germany and Holland though pitched as it was between pop and rock there was always a danger that 'Homelands' would prove to be too pop for mass rock album tastes and too rock for popsters looking for catchy singles and who would quickly switch off particularly once loud guitar wigouts were given a bit of space. And so it proved to be. Despite the proto-rap "Big Bubbles No Troubles" becoming a charting single and 'Homelands' showing plenty of dazzling musicianship and high tech electronic wizardry (like on Beggsy's signature Chapman stick when he pushes it through a TC Electronic phaser), a mega hit eluded E, B & H and soon they went their separate ways. The songs they left behind are intriguing. I don't know who of the three wrote the lyrics for the strangely enigmatic "Say A Prayer". Maybe one day I'll get a chance to ask Mr Beggs. In the meantime if funky pop rock delivered with maximum production sheen sounds like your thing, this cult-following album is well worth searching out.

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