Captain Sensible

The Universe of Geoffrey Brown

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A Captain Sensible LP is a rare event. Since his first two albums appeared in 1981 and 1982 while he was still in the Damned, only 1989's Revolution Now and this new effort have been released. Not that it's completely his fault; this new work was completed over two years ago -- it stinks when a legend of this ability can't find someone willing to issue an already recorded album. Nonetheless, the good Captain doesn't fail us and never has. While not as strong as Revolution Now, all of his usual goofy, nostalgic neo-psychedelic guitar tricks and surprisingly crafted pop tunes are in place and sound 1993 despite his most retro prank yet: "Damned" if this isn't a concept album about one Geoffrey Brown, whose sedate corporate life is turned topsy-turvy when now-extinct aliens start leaving warning messages on his computer screen about our similar self-inflicted demise. The concept is amusing, listening to Brown's wife, co-workers, and friends abandon him as a crackpot only for the government to recognize his value in the end. It combines two common Sensible themes: our own self-destructive impulses and the ostracizing of folks who go against accepted practices and actually dare to use their own brains; can there be any other truly lasting positive message from the supposedly (not really) nihilistic (actually really fun) punk days that loony-tunes like Sensible helped found? And such glitzy tunes as "Holiday in My Heart," "Street of Shame," and the title track claw their way into your affections in a few plays. The man can write -- like his pal Robyn Hitchcock, only much more consistently and without the nonsense lyrics, Sensible loves a pop song, knows one when he hears one or writes one, and has 30 years of great pop song riffs and styles stored in his brain to compose his own. Ever since the Damned's masterful Strawberries revealed his prowess, he's been loved by those in the know: He's one-third ridiculous clown, one-third lovable English eccentric incapable of growing old, and one-third (barely noticed as a result) great artist. Sensible has made some of the happiest, most enjoyable tunes around ever by a musician so scoffed at, and this is another ambitious yet modest gem from a true personality original.

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