[sic] Magazine

The Wide – Smile

Half Man Half Biscuit got it wrong. I never wanted a Dukla Prague away kit for Christmas. I always favoured a Monchengladbach ‘homecoming’ gig by the Dead Guitars. What a band they were, combining vocalist Carlo van Putten (The Convent, White Rose Transmission, etc) with alumni from the Twelve Drummers Drumming. (That Christmas connection again!) Those were absolute ‘must go’ concerts. If you had friends staying over for Christmas. Easy. Simply bring ‘em with you. Just… get your arse to Gladbach.

You were glad…
…the Deadies were back.

A couple of years ago, during one of those very evenings, Dead Guitars called time on that iteration of the band. It was the end of an era but the beginning of another. Carlo went on to his other projects, most notably White Rose Transmission and In2The Sound. The rest of Dead Guitars became The Wide, an almost ‘business as usual’ reboot, only with guitarist Pete Brough stepping up to the mic.

Fast forward and we now have The Wide version 2.1. The big difference this time sees the departure of axe legend/producer Ralf Aussem. Nothing sinister. Ralf physically relocated to Berlin. (which is a 5 hour schlep both ways if you’re thinking of rehearsals) The Wide instead welcome newbies Roo Hobbers and Sebastian Kühl, both of whom are guitarists. The rest remains intact. Powerhouse Hermann Eugster continues to pound drum kits into submission regardless of the b(r)and name they display whilst quiet man Kurt Schmidt, himself a bit of a multi- instrumentalist, contributed bass and a whole bunch more. Kurt also produced this latest album, which is, I’m happy to report, pretty darned good.

On to Smile then, but first let’s deal with the obvious elephant in the room. The absence of Aussem would be terminal in most bands cases. The Wide avoid such damage. Brough has navigated the loss of his singer before and does the same again now without his long term musical collaborator. With Smile The Wide continue to deliver alternative rock that knows its heritage. With fresh input into the band and Broughs own songwriting more to the fore, Smile is a more sixties/seventies imbibed proposition. Petes voice has settled into a middle ground somewhere between Lennon and Bowie and we could make similar claims for the album. Smile is a well assembled record with highlights including The Blue Nile infused ‘Golden Blunder’, the dreamy ‘two step’ of the title track and sweeping epic, ‘See The Light’. Penultimate song, ‘Anything’ showcases the new guitarists whilst earlier cut ‘Alone’ evokes Bowies Berlin period albeit with a dash of Big Country romanticism thrown in. Friend artist Crystin Fawn lends her lovely backing vocals to the rest of the album which rewards repeat listening.

Whilst the twelve days of Christmas 2022 might not bring us any drummers drumming, sadly, nor a Dead Guitars hometown Hootenanny, this record might still put a Wide Smile on listeners faces.

Smile is released via Echozone on October 28th.



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