Stereophonics: Just Enough Education to Perform

Following on from the trouble Ann Robinson has recently found herself in after making derogatory comments about the Welsh, I shall have to tread very carefully knowing that the Stereophonics fellow countrymen walk among us in the hallowed ImagoQA halls. Cwmaman most famous sons, Stuart Cable, Kelly Jones and Richard Jones (no relation) took the name "Stereophonics" from the front of the old sideboard styled gramophone in Cable’s grandmothers’ house. The success of their second long player, "Performance and Cocktails", ensured that this third installment had no problem entering the top of the UK charts, toppling Hearsay’s "Popstars". Kelly Jones has taken a minor slating from the popular musical press for the quality of his lyrics. Although Jones is hardly in line for the next poet Loriet, this does seem a trifle unfair, after all the competition aren’t doing any better, and the standards set by the likes of Dylan and Cohen are rarely reached in these enlightened times. Perhaps a more important thing to look at is the quality of the music, and that sounds pretty good to me. The opening track, "Vegas Two Times", picks up were "Performance and Cocktails" left off with Kelly Jones’ distinctive throaty vocals and brusque guitar. "Mr. Writer" has a bubbling reverbing backdrop on which the trio overlay some interesting harmonic vocals, bluesey piano and pounding acoustic guitar. The Steely Guitar and Harmonica on "Rooftop", the final track provides a solid end to a wholly acceptable album. They do however, never seem to quite reach the pace and energy of "The Bartender and the Thief". The more optimistic of those watching their careers with interest will feel that "Just Enough Education to Perform" falls slightly short of their higher aspirations, still the majority of fans should have no cause to be disappointed.