Mmm ... horny!
It is often cited as one of the best debut albums ever, but this does it something of a disservice, since you could take the word "debut" out of that statement and it would still be correct. It's certainly one of my favourites - in my top ten, in fact - and has been for some time, but oddly I can't remember when I first came across it. All I know is that although I loved the single "Geno" at the time, I didn't get the album until I was buying CDs, probably over ten years later.
Why do I love it? It's the horns. For all the column inches written about the genius and vision of Kevin Rowland - and don't get me wrong, he's great here - the unsung heroes of this wonderful album are the horn section, and in particular, whoever did the arrangements. The way they harmonize with each other, punctuate the vocals and punch up the emotion is inspirational and uplifting, even on the slowest of tracks, and on the wonderful instrumental "The Teams That Meet In Caffs" it's all brass goodness. Other horny gems include the slow-burning "I'm Just Looking" or "I Couldn't Help It If I Tried", "Geno" (of course) ... well, pretty much the whole album.
The tracks come with serious messages I believe (Rowland doesn't come across as a man with much of a sense of humour, however much he claims otherwise) but it passes me by, as ever. But Rowland's odd yelping delivery is strangely compelling and his commitment is legendarily indisputable. Overall, the ingredients add up to a completely unique album that truly counts as classic.