Released: May 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
I was avoiding this one because of the cover: Boy George/Sinead O’Connor in some sort of failed modernist oil painting with some wiggly text that looks like it was dropped on in MS Word. Not inspiring.
Bandcamp didn’t seem to be offering me anything despite feeling that there was something out there that day. This cover seemed to keep coming around. Then I noticed the genre was Soul. Well, why not? I expected a ghastly girly oversinger that would last as long as it took me to find somewhere else to click.
Not so much it seems. When Gregg chose R&B/Soul as his genre he was thinking more like Hall & Oates than Destiny’s Child, which is actually the truer meaning of the genre tag.
Gregg Sutton is an old guy Rocker with a long history and many associations with big-name acts. He even had a solo release in 1979 called “Soft As A Sidewalk”. It’s a beaut record that I’d be delighted to own. Sadly though for some reason, it didn’t really sell and isn’t available now.
Gregg went on to work with a laundry list of top names as well as have a lot of his songs recorded by artists as diverse as Dolly Parton & The Human League. Turns out I like a few Sutton penned songs already.
Doing some digging and comparing, I realize that “No More Lounging Around” shares some tracks with “Soft As A Sidewalk”. It makes me wonder if maybe a lot of the tracks are re-treaded. It is hard to know as there is no album info at all. Something I think that is a shame. Why were songs re-treaded, why now…?
This album is at times just a tiny bit patchy as there are a few songs that stick out as lacking the style and confidence of most of the material. “It Might As Well Be Me” is one. At these times it seems like an old dude trying to sound hip and like he can mix it with the kids. A shame as overall this record is pretty darned lovely because Gregg is not like the kids; his work is of a far greater quality.
I mentioned Hall & Oates, I could also mention Don Henley, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Hot Chocolate or a host of other singer-songwriters from the late 70’s & the 80’s. That time when Rock had matured to a point when getting solid results was not always easy but you knew when you had it. Gregg Sutton is in that ballpark.
Gregg has had a lot of great associations but it feels like this record lacks the confidence of mature masters working in their areas of expertise. Maybe Gregg did this solo, or maybe his co-conspirators were fractured in time & space, or maybe they hoped to get a foot in the door with the kids (who will never care anyway so why chase them). Either way, I’d love to hear Gregg back in the studio with a band and production team who have the confidence to play to the strengths of his songs & singing – like George Jones and Keith Stegall on “Hits I Missed… And One I Didn’t”.
Until that can happen, “No More Lounging Around” is a really great place to start to appreciate this largely unknown Rock survivor.
UPDATE: I have had a tiny chat with Gregg (through Larry Green) and I have discovered that the cover painting was by his late wife, Fredo. Knowing that, puts the cover and album title into perspective.