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And Now It's All This  Micky Greaney delivers his masterpiece

And Now It's All This

Micky Greaney delivers his masterpiece

by Jay Lewis, Reviews Editor
first published: March, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

It is not a museum piece, a is an album to enjoy, to absorb, to celebrate, to live with now!

And Now It's All This
(Seventeen Records)

The lure of lost albums is a curious and intriguing thing. The pondering over a possible alternative version of music history, a glimpse into what might have been. What if the Beach Boys ‘Smile!’ sessions had not collapsed before their completion, how may it have shaped the landscape of the music we love? And what of those abandoned releases by Marvin Gaye, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and so many more, what would have happened if their lost (and sometimes found) records had been released when they were intended to? 

Closer to home, that alternative version of music history includes a record called ‘And Now It’s All This’ by Birmingham’s Micky Greaney. An album recorded in 1995 and 1996 (a follow up to the well-received ‘Little Symphonies For The Kids’ released the year before), partly made at Abbey Road in London with producer John Leckie (whose splendid CV includes Magazine, XTC, PIL, The Fall, 'early' Simple Minds, The Lilac Time, The Stone Roses and Radiohead). 

It is a record that should be in collections alongside (or indeed instead of), the very best of that decade. It is a record that, thanks to the meticulous restoration work of Seventeen Records, is now released (and I'll be talking to the label in a few days about how this all came about). What’s important though is that now ‘And Now It’s All This’ is here, that it is not regarded merely as a museum piece to be handled with white cotton gloves on, a souvenir for those who remember his brilliant live shows in Birmingham. No, this is an album to enjoy, to absorb, to celebrate, to live with now!

“I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.”
(John Lennon – 1966)

There is something exciting, audacious even, about any record that starts with an ‘Overture’ but the blast from the Enigma Quartet at the start of this album is just that, take your seats - the show is about to begin! The Quartet (which Greaney apparently recruited by walking into Birmingham Conservatoire and asking if anyone fancied playing!), then guide the way into the feverish delight of ‘Sweetheart’ – the synergy between the band, the quartet and Greaney’s soaring and emotionally charged vocals is breathtaking. Listening to Greaney’s impassioned delivery, I’d be very surprised he if didn’t have a well worn copy of Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’ at home, quite probably next to Jeff Buckley’s 'Grace'.  

By contrast ‘Crazee Dazee’ is a fragile tale of brokenheartedness that manages to shift from its tender piano intro and Greaney’s strummed lament to dramatic blasts of electric guitar that puncture the proceedings. It’s a strange clash of styles that works so well.  ‘I Want To’ maintains the crestfallen mood and album closer ‘Stop Breaking My Heart’ strips back that solitude to just voice and guitar – it’s a haunted but beautiful place.

Although none of And Now It’s All This’ sounds dated (great songwriting does not have a sell-by date!), it’s sometimes possible to identify when it may have been made.  The brilliant and poignant pain of ‘Look At Me Now’ is the sound of a band playing together, firing off each other, jamming together in a big studio!  I doubt if a song of this hugeness could be made by someone at home on their laptop. ‘Look At Me Now’ is an anthem, a big hurt, and it was made before you could sway along and turn your mobile phone torch. Despite this music being made before the ubiquitous world of streaming and downloads, the quality of these great songs is timeless!

Elsewhere, ‘It Ain't Easy’ is that fabulous juxtaposition, a contemplation on failed romance wrapped in the blanket of an absolutely huggable melody. And it’s that remarkable knack for adorable melody that shapes the album’s best pop moment. ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ lyrically we’re in a philosophical place (take the opening line ‘today I learned to live with my defeat’ or the observation that ‘yesterday don’t matter, it is only in your mind…’), and with some Beatlesesque like magic, distilling it all into one classic song structure.  It will be the song that you will be waking up singing for days on end after it embeds itself in you. I promise you.

And, whilst we’re in Beatles’ territory, the eleven-minute bonus track (the closing number on the CD/Download versions) ‘Venia Veda Requiem’ – a spectacular piece that shifts through so many textures and, along the way, does have a smattering of ‘Within You, Without You’ to it. It’s intriguing that the version included here is only a part of something originally far longer. Nevertheless it remains a spectacular piece. 

Back in the early 1990s when Greaney and his twelve-piece band played residencies at Ronny Scott’s in Birmingham to sold-out crowds, he was frequently referred to as “Birmingham’s best-kept secret.”  (an accolade that made the Post and Mail’s Terry Grimley remark that ‘In a city of well-kept secrets, that was quite a claim.’). Now that we finally have ‘And Now It’s All This’ the word is out – Mickey Greaney's brilliance is a secret no more.  

Essential Information.
'And Now It's All This' by Micky Greaney is released on 29 April. It is available to pre-order here (and copies are selling fast)
Jay's interview with the team at Seventeen Records will be published next week.

Jay Lewis
Reviews Editor

Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based poet. He's also a music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.

about Jay Lewis »»



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