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Ansell, Martin - 1986 The Englishman Abroad

ARTIST: Ansell, Martin
ALBUM: The Englishman Abroad
LABEL: Island
SERIAL: 207-631, ISL-1051
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: Martin Ansell - vocals, guitars * Phil Palmer - guitars * Rupert Hine - keyboards, background vocals * Howard Jones - keyboards * Chris Rodel - bass * Trevor Morals - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hardy's England * 02 Shine * 03 Slow Life * 04 Indian Restaurant * 05 The Englishman Abroad * 06 White Bread, Brown Bread * 07 The Finest Thing * 08 Brilliant * 09 Gold Is Obsession * 10 The Eighth Wonder * 11 Big Drum * 12 Newspeak * 13 Infidel (For Chrissie) * 14 If I Could Stop This Train * 15 The Success Of Skilled Hands

Martin Ansell spent time in both the Tom Robinson Band and The Damned related post-punk group Captain Sensible, none of which promoted AOR attitudes but his talent, or should I say melodic alter ego would not come to fruition until this album 'The Englishman Abroad', a little known classic of mid-80's rock produced by Rupert Hine whose fingerprint can been found on numerous classic albums from Cafe Jacques and Tina Turner to The Fixx as well as his own bands Quantum Jump and Thinkman not to mention several solo albums, all of which I recommend highly.

The Songs
From the opening track 'Hardy's England' it's clear who was really in charge here. This is a Rupert Hine production from beginning to end and if you enjoy The Fixx, It Bites and Canadian bands Eight Seconds and The Box, this CD should be in your collection. 'Hi-tech' AOR has never been a favourite style for this reviewer; the sound has always seemed way over produced, cold and calculated, but this album is different. There is a strong progressive rock vibe found here which draws me in musically. This is a trend I wish Genesis would've embraced in this era instead of trying to ape the 'Motown' sounds Phil Collins was so fond of. As an added plus, keyboard wizard Howard Jones appears throughout the album adding his own synthetic spice giving the album a rich and at times, ethnic flavour.

In Summary
Where is Martin Ansell now? No clue, but this is a smart recording that deserves your attention with plenty of that 80's vibe so many Glory Daze readers enjoy, while offering something beyond just your average pop album. Take a chance on 'The Englishman Abroad' which has been reissued on the Blueprint label. I doubt you will be disappointed.

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