Ted Leo

Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead

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Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' 2003 Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead EP includes the freewheeling and powerful title song (taken from their excellent 2003 album Hearts of Oak) plus eight more songs featuring Leo performing solo. He covers his own "The High Party" (also found originally on Hearts of Oak), a handful of covers, and three new songs. Despite the stripped-down format, Leo's trademark vocal acrobatics are still in evidence, as are his intense passion and dedication. He backs himself on electric guitar throughout and you can't help thinking of Billy Bragg at times. That's not a bad thing at all. The three covers are the Jam's "Ghosts," Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town," and Split Enz's "Six Months in a Leaky Boat," and they all are delivered with 100 percent conviction. Leo also manages to evoke Paul Weller's vocals on "Ghosts" and Tim Finn's vocals on "Six Months" without being an imitator. The three originals are politically charged, making reference to "sh*tty wars" and his "sorrowful country." They lend themselves well to the solo format, although it is easy to hear what the full band would have added to "The Sword in the Stone." The fiery ballad "Loyal to My Sorrowful Country" is especially strong. It sounds like the kind of song that would get protesters whipped up into a righteous frenzy. Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead is another great release by one of the few artists around today who has a perfect balance between energy and intellect.

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