When my father suggests I listen to an album, I make a note of it and put it aside in my parental notes box. This box also includes such chestnuts of advice as “you must be careful with money” and “don’t get hit by cars on the Hagley Road”. Much like these nuggets of wisdom, introducing me to SAHB was a prime example of ‘Pater knows best’. Framed is a masterpiece to be sure. And the fact it is their debut is just astonishing.
Stage set for something far more theatrical, he unleashed the extraordinary textures of Framed with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, including Hammer Song (later covered By Nick Cave) and the epic Midnight Moses, while also dabbling with the witchcraft heroine Isobel Goudie and the superbly detailed Mafia-mobster-goes-to-the-electric-chair melodrama There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree, Mother, They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight. Louder Sound
I’m frequently at a loss when writing music reviews. Reading other people’s reviews makes me realise how little I know about music in general, despite knowing a great deal more than I am expected to know. One thing which sticks out to me is how genuine Framed is as an album. There is raw passion and pain visible to those who care to listen. Framed is packed full of energy and power.
The Hammer Song is a feat of rock and roll. The carefully crafted lyrics lead you to a conclusion in the lives of each of the character that the song portrays and then blows them up with a rock medley mid song which almost made me fall off of my chair at work, where I first heard it. This reminded me of Utopia’s Hiroshima, which had the same idea, except to demonstrate monstrosity rather than career complications.
If we’re talking classic 70’s rock riffs, ‘Midnight Moses’ has to be one of my favourites. A stop-start blues lick that doubles up on timing before giving way to a thunderous bass and drums rocker. Then there’s the singing. Having showcased a mellower style at the start of ‘Hammer Song’, Harvey really goes for the raw rock singing here, that accent again colouring the lyrics – far too many to mention here, though special credit to him for rhyming ‘Geneva’ with ‘Fever’. Genius. Head Heritage
Another highlight for me is Framed itself. Alex Harvey never strays from his Glaswegian vernacular, making it very clear at points throughout this album but especially in Framed. He embodies the pain in being wrongly accused beautifully. You wouldn’t blame him for being blue, and the SAHB play this song to a blues backing most apposite for the subject matter.
A lot of people seem to think Midnight Moses is the best track on this album. It is doubtless a thing of advanced rock n roll prowess. The track shows that Alex Harvey’s decision to merge with Tear Gas, a then failing rock and roll band, was one of the wisest of his career.
I liked There’s No Lights on the Christmas Tree Mother. The beginning was something near Dusty Springfield, and the bass is persistent throughout the track. In an almost country twist, this track is a real toe tapper. Harvey’s sensational Scottish accent remains a highlight. “Mardah in the first dagree!”
Overall, this debut album sent shock waves through British pop culture in 1972 and remains as fresh as the day it was released. This is a surprising and delightful album which should see you head banging on public transport or singing along in your vehicle as you listen to it for the third time in a row. Seriously, Framed is not an album to miss.