‘The New Industrial Ballads’, the new album from UK legends The Claim, is more than just ballads. Let’s be clear on that. The track listing is extremely varied within the respectable genres The Claim is already well known for. They are also, after listening to this album of new material, still well within the talent realm that they are already comfortable with. The Hooks are fresh and still The Claim. Each song is catchy and memorable in their own, individual right. And the guitars! I could go on about the fine mix of the dual guitars. As a guitarist myself, I know all too often that bands with two guitars can often get muddy and muddled within the mix. But here, each has an individual voice as much as the rest of the band. The Claim can now claim their place among the other artists of the era as a band with creative longevity.
As of May 24 via A Turntable Friend Records, this 14-track record is available digitally, on gatefold CD (with lyrics) and on black vinyl(with lyric sheet), with a special blue-green vinyl edition also exclusive to Rough Trade and Bandcamp orders. Worldwide distribution is being handled via SRD (Southern Record Distributors) out of London.
About The Claim
The Claim is David Read (vocals/guitar/keyboards), David Arnold (guitar), Stuart Ellis (bass), and Martin Bishop (drums). Hailing from Cliffe in Kent, The Claim was one of the major players in the thriving ‘Medway Scene’, producing mod-influenced pop that seriously influenced the sound of Blur’s earliest works.
The new album comes hot on the trail of a special reissue of their seminal album ‘Boomy Tella’ album, available on green vinyl and also CD for the first time. The album was remastered for this limited edition of 300 copies, using the original 1/4 inch tapes. A recent feature in El País, Spain’s biggest selling newspaper, described ‘Boomy Tella’ as the missing link between The Kinks and Blur.
The Claim makes beautiful and original hybrid music that channels the root ingredients of classic English guitar music – a tasteful combination of folk (Bert Jansch, Nick Drake), thoughtful, melodic pop (Michael Head, Ray Davies), and angular politically-tinged pop (Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, The Wolfhounds) into something that is contemporary and original.
‘The New Industrial Ballads’ presents the group’s sound 30 odd years later if they had continued to play and develop, rather than quit. It’s different, it’s interesting but it is still distinctively in the mold that made the group the true pioneers of Britpop in the late 80s and early 90s.
‘The New Industrial Ballads’ celebrates the noble tradition (the lineage of which runs through folk, ballads, skiffle, the Kinks, to punk and beyond) of ordinary people singing about everyday concerns and the issues of the day that impact on working lives. ‘Journey’ is about economic migration, the characters involved, the need to fight passionately for the right of all to move to work. In ‘Estuary Greens and Blues’, David Read reflects on the passing years and a changing industrial landscape as he walks the shore of the Thames estuary. ‘30 Years’ is a collaboration with writer Vic Templar, who narrates a poignant and prescient tale contrasts mankind’s inability to progress politically and spiritually with technological advances (a follow-up to The Claim’s cult classic ‘Mike the Bike’, released on Bob “Saint Etienne” Stanley’s Caff label in 1990).
About the lead track, David Arnold says, “Journey marks a welcome return of political pop. It’s a song that the Claim wrote following the European referendum. It was motivated by a deep unease about the way in which the political right dehumanized economic migrants during the campaign and afterward. The lyrics reflect on the similarities between the journeys made by different members of all our families across the generations, to find a new life and a happy ending. Empathy is something we have to fight for”.
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Who is The Claim? All four of them have day jobs. In a parallel world in which new industrial balladry and the English version of Americana rules, this would be a virtue – rather than something that makes them look like part-timers. David Read is a fireman. David Arnold works for a trade union. Stuart Ellis is a policeman. Martin Bishop works for a kitchen and bathroom supplier. All band members spent their formative years in Kent, and the two Davids and Martin in a tiny village called Cliffe that was built up around a cement works. Stuart hails from the nearby market town of Maidstone. They learned their craft on the Medway scene, alongside local heroes The Milkshakes, The Prisoners, Wipeout, and The Dentists.
The new album was recorded at Jim Riley’s Ranscombe Studios in Rochester, which is the spiritual home of today’s Medway sound with the studio being used by all local luminaries young and old, including Theatre Royal, Billy Childish, Graham Day, Treasures of Mexico and Glenn Prangnell’s Groovy Uncle.
In the group’s earlier period (1985-92) they secured Single of the Week in Melody Maker (Loser’s Corner), got 8/10 in NME for their album (Boomy Tella) and received regular airplay on John Peel and Andy Kershaw. The Manic Street Preachers, who used to write The Claim long love letters, performed their first ever London show supporting The Claim in 1989.
“Upon listening to their new material, it would seem that The Claim has not missed a beat since reaching their pinnacle in the early 90s. Their new album is loaded with upbeat, catchy, jangly earworms with lyrics that are full of meaning. ‘Journey’ in particular holds great significance in a Brexit-plagued Britain”
– The Spill Magazine
“These supernova tracks from Britain’s sons offer goodness floating somewhere between The Smiths, Blur and The Chameleons, but with the sheer positivity of The Railway Children”
– The Record Stache
“Pure Englishness with lasting integrity. The Claim sound as great today as they did at the height of their popularity… The Claim could have been Wembley Stadium-filling prog rockers. Fortunately they never listened to anyone, ever”
– Buzzin Music
“It’s no secret that members of Blur were fans of The Claim, enough to borrow from their sound for their early material. This is not surprising at all, especially considering how catchy, fun and upbeat this music is”
– The Noise Journal
“The Claim wrote exquisite songs of love, loss and social commentary… Some of the most exquisite and exhilarating pop this side of The Turtles”
– Pop Junkie London