Smiling My Life Away

The fabulous Case, I band I followed aplenty, in Sounds, 26 March, 1983.


There are times when you just know. No ifs or butts or silly haircuts, you know the band on stage are gonna be bigger than Buster Bloodvessel on a Shredded Wheat rampage.
I saw it in Case almost two years ago in the person of singer/sensation Matthew Newman, a wonderful rascal with a chameleon kisser that ch-ch-changes from carnival clown to criminal and back to court jester before your very eyes-ah.
Matthew had star written all the way through him and, for the next eighteen months, I seriously slagged roguish manager Dave Long for his Bernie Rhodes ‘holding back’ policy. But after tonight, all you can hear in the Bushell household is the sound of your humble chewing his own curses, ‘cos months of rehearsals and ruthless recruitment have made Case good enough to back Matthew, and that means very special indeed.
If you want it short and scintillating, sweets, they’re akin to Dexys meet the Ruts with a juicy jot of Manners mania thrown in for good measure. But don’t get the idea they’re stale copyists – this band are refreshingly alive.
Ripe with irresistible dance rhythms, they grin their way through a bonzer beano bonanza stuffed solid with energy and emotion, passion and pop pizazazz, fun and fervour. They’re aggressive without being dumb and intelligent without being dull, and this, you don’t need telling, makes a long overdue change.
Matthew still steals the show. Even his new beard couldn’t dampen the magnetic appeal of that big beaming boat and its battery of moods, and even a silly amount of stage space couldn’t keep him still.
But the band are well worth watching. With haircuts ranging from punk and smoothie to Travolta and rockabilly (as diverse as their appeal), they comprise the usual bass/guitar/drums to-do swelled by a pair of sizzling saxes (Clarence Clemons for herberts?) and everyone of them impresses. When I say they’re tight, I mean they’d make yer average Tory council look generous: I mean, these boys are more together than Siamese twins.
‘Ain’t Gonna Dance’ commences proceedings with big blasts of Manners style horns that surge into a hot ‘n’ heavy soul stomp. Then ‘You’ll Be My Fools’ slows the pace for a more atmospheric cavort suffused with disciplined menace before Case hit top gear again for the belting ‘Let That One Go’.
‘You Know What’s Good For You’ dishes out more dollops of Dexy’s-style passion-punch and finds Matthew at his most Rowland-like – a Croydon soul brother who can crack his face. And by the next number ‘Criminal Ways’, the virgin crowd are going seriously barmy although it’s easily surpassed by the soon-come single ‘Oh’. With its Rutsy rhythm and great blasting brass, it’s a gem of Crown Jewels stature.
And that just leaves ‘I Am The Only People’. the nearest the band come to a ballad, before the sensational set-closer, my favourite number, ‘Smiling My Life Away’ which once again sees the boys coming up with dynamic propulsion of prime Ruts proportions wed to a joyous singalong hookline solid enough to snare Moby Dick hisself.
I’;; tell ya, if I’ve got any doubts about any of these numbers it’s only because the best are so great … aww listen, I’ll get right to the point. I don’t pop my cork for every band I see, but I’d be willing to blow my life savings on a side-bet on Case’s inevitable rise.
I’m not talking Top Thirty or Top Twenty, but Top ten. And not in the another day, another haircut sense, but in terms of those very rare qualities – individuality, ingenuity and real emotion. Ring out the old, ring in the new …

Garry Bushell

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