Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shotter's Nation

My love for Pete Doherty is, granted, irrational. I'm a few years too old to fall for such a young pretty boy and his music. At my age I should just be nodding gently to the Rolling Stones' back catalogue and popping on Snow Patrol, Coldplay and Keane when I really want to go comatose. But here I go again...Shotter's Nation is such a wonderful collection of songs and, for the first time in his scrap-book slung together mess of a career, Pete's had a producer to guide his studio efforts. For all that Mick Jones fitted the crazy world of The Libertines he didn't appear to bring a lot to the table with his anti-producing production (compare and contrast the Bernard Butler produced Death on the Stairs with Mick's subsequent album version. Not so much raw as a barely improved demo recorded in a metal bucket). Yes, Stephen Street, Morrissey's old mucker, brings spit and polish and focus and everything that Babyshambles lacked, although somehow retains the looseness that makes this raggle taggle, skinny-trousered outfit so unique. And Shotter's Nation really does feel like the work of a band rather than the bad poetic outpourings of Kate Moss and Carl Barat's ex.

I don't care for Pete's dirty fingernails, I wish he'd leave his bad habits behind and guarantee himself a long life. But, unlike The Sun, I do realise that, smack 'n' crack interludes aside, Pete is, heart and soul, all about the music. Shotter's Nation won't change anyone's mind about the man, I shouldn't think, but it is a nicely crafted piece of work that proves something to someone, although I'm not sure if he had to prove anything to me - he's a majestic live performer, and even Down in Albion did it for me. Hell, (and after the Mick Jones rant I realise this may sound a tad hypocritical) I quite happily listen to hours of Pete's acoustic demos and workouts, which, even in their shoddily recorded state, outdo many an indie band's output.

So, here are songs. Real, fully-formed songs. Lyrically, Pete's always a toss-up between a sixth-former scribbling away in the back of an exercise book and a 21st century Ray Davies. 'She's far too good looking, to do the cooking,' he belts out on Baddies Boogie, 'It's a lousy life with a washed up wife, and a permanently plastered, pissed-up bastard'. How can you not love him too? Cathartic self-obsession? Oh yes: 'In the morning where does the pain go? Same place the fame goes, to your head,' he warbles on natty opener Carry On Up The Morning, bringing visions of Brian Jones floating in a swimming pool, Ian Curtis dangling from a rope and Kurt Cobain blowing away his face and, admittedly, inducing an 'oh, Pete, put the pipe down, get over it and get on with it' sentiment. And, glory be, for the subsequent eleven tracks he does, bowing out with the beautifully sublime Lost Art of Murder, with Bert Jansch noodling away on a steel-strung guitar.

I don't alphabeticise, I place CDs in order of gravitas. Shotter's Nation will sit between The Libertines first and second albums on the top - ie most important - shelf and I'm in no doubt that this is a piece of work that will stand up decades from now. And the album that confirms that Peter Doherty is not a waster, but a genius.

Pete delivers, then, straight from the heart of all his recent (mostly self-inflicted) misery. My love shows no signs of abating.


bazza27 said...

Nice review, I shall make an effort to listen to this on your recommendation.

NQ said...

An excellent piece, Dave. I've liked what i've heard of the album, and being pro-Doherty, i'm looking forward to hearing the rest. As a fan of Jones's production, it should make for an interesting contrast.