OVEREND WATTS He’s Real Gone

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There are bands that made a difference but were never canonized. There are band members that made a difference but do not live in most people’s memories because they were too busy as artists. Singer, bass-player, guitarist and songwriter Peter Overend Watts (1948-2017)belongs to this category, being a founder-member of Mott The Hoople and Mott, before teaming up with John Fiddler of Medicine Head to form British Lions.

This is the solo album he worked on for years and succeeded in completing shortly before his death in January 2017 at the age of 69 – with a rare sense of humour changing the original title ‘She’s Real Gone’ (the opening track) into ‘He’s Real Gone’. Here, Overend Watts the rocker (he also produced bands like Hanoi Rocks) has stepped down for Overend Watts the song-writer and we like it like that. With its jangling guitar parts, ‘He’d Be A Diamond’ remind me of sixties folk-rock, whereas the slide of ‘Prawn Fire’ sets the tone for what turns it out to be a weird succession of sounds.

‘The Magic Garden’ is a dreamy song beginning and ending with the banjo. The album covers a wide range of styles, with Overend Watts’ humour and Englishness all over the place. All in all, it’s an album for patient and open-minded listeners who appreciate a good song when they hear one. Overend Watts sings all the parts and plays all the instruments, except for extra vocals and guitars by his friend Phil Hendriks.

Keys and Chords (October 2017)


The album was originally intended to be called She’s Real Gone (the title of the lead track). But when Watts realized the album would be released after his passing, he opted to go with He’s Real Gone. So obviously this talented man’s sense of humor remained intact. Real nice that this release sees the light of day now, because it puts Overend’s contributions to the world of music in perspective. Yes, he is mainly known for his work with Mott The Hoople. But he was obviously much more than that. He was a songwriter in his own right. And he was also a friend and mentor to lots of people. Interestingly, this does not sound like a batch of tunes recorded by someone so late in their career. These tracks are upbeat, melodic, catchy, and bright. Hearing these songs with so much hit potential, we can’t help but think what could have happened if Mr. Watts had recorded more material while he was here on earth. Hats off to the fine folks at Angel Air for releasing this album. Thirteen cool tracks plus one bonus track (the original demo of “Born Late 58″). Rest in peace, Mr. Watts.

babysue (September 2017)


Recorded over a long period and indeed his only solo release Overend sticks to no genre but just gives us a lyrically light hearted, witty and humorous look inside his head, just look at a sample of titles ‘The Dinosaur Market’, ‘Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel’, ‘Caribbean Hate Song’ and my personal favourite, so far, ‘Belle Of The Boot’ which just brings a smile to my face, listen to it we’ve all been there! But this is no comedic album ‘Belle’ has a hook many songwriters would envy. Indeed all thirteen tracks are well crafted and Overend played (or programmed) all the instruments. Its in retrospect a crying shame it took him 40 years to make a solo album because based on this he had so much to offer outside of his fundamental contribution to MTH.

Like labelmates Stackridge I reviewed recently, Overend is a one-off defying putting in a ‘box’ quirky, delightful and yes heart-warming. Echos of glam, punk, jilted John tease thru the 60 odd minutes running time but in the end its a unique album from a unique artist who may have physically left us but whose musical legacy will live on to delight his many fans. If I have a down day I’ll be slapping this in the disc drawer without fail.

Ninebattles (September 2017)


Mott The Hoople bassist Overend Watts died in January, but he mocks mortality with a high-spirited posthumous album full of upbeat tunes and silly jokes. He even insisted that its name be changed from She’s Real Gone to He’s Real Gone. Determined to have a good time, he writes and plays almost everything himself, singing in a voice that welds Ray Davies, Syd Barrett and John Otway and penning rhymes that lead you to believe he’s about to say a filthy word, which he then swerves like a guitar-slinging Benny Hill.

‘Overend’s just a rock ‘n’ roll star’, Ian Hunter sang in Ballad Of Mott The Hoople, and there’s no arguing with that lore as he rips through cheeky riffs and rhythms. By the time he’s chanting ‘Prawn fire!’ repeatedly, you’re won over by the surrealism and resilient humour. His original demo of Mott’s Born Late ’58 is a bittersweet bonus.

Team Rock (September 2017)


An up-front streak of humour colours the material throughout, from the opener (and near-title track) ‘She’s Real Gone’, ‘Dinosaur Market’ with its nursery rhyme playfulness and the psychedelic surrealism of ‘Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel’. ‘Belle Of The Boot’, meanwhile, is a full-strength demonstration of glam-smeared rock ‘n’ roll firepower…Elsewhere Watts reveals a pronounced reflective side, as on ‘The Search’ or the penultimate cut ‘Miss Kingston’. A touching parting statement from one of British rock ‘n’ roll’s one-offs.

Vive Le Rock (September 2017)


Reading comments from those who knew Overend Watts that He’s Real Gone absolutely captures the spirit of the man who created it means that this solo album succeeds in a way that many, if not most, certainly don’t. For those not quite so acquainted with him the journey to discovery is a tougher one, an initially impenetrable set of songs only slowly revealing their charms. Still for an artist famed for his humour and uncompromising nature, should we have expected any else?

Sea Of Tranquility (September 2017)


The different, sometimes conflicting, aspects of this lovably eccentric man’s personality jostle throughout intricately-constructed classic pop, gentle prog-tainted rock and quirky widescreen ballads; all crafted like stained glass windows into his idiosyncratic soul, tempered with surreal humour and buoyed by the malapropism he turned into an art form…The set’s inevitable poignancy is enhanced by its photo booklet and bonus track of Watt’s original 1974 demo for Mott’s Born Late ’58, recorded with school friend drummer Buffin; sadly also real gone in 2016.

Record Collector Magazine (September 2017)


There’s a definite sense of humour about the whole album that is offset by Overend’s quite impressive vocals and arrangements. Some of the tracks like “Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel” border on Python-esque humour, yet it’s played with sheer sonic accuracy. There’s plenty of Mott and Bowie inspired pop ditties and rave ups. Check out the Bowie-esque “There’s Berkeley Power Station”. Somewhere in pop heaven, Overend and Buffin are now jamming with Bowie and Ronno so keep the faith and crank up the volume. A stunning, ear-opening, posthumous pop-rock achievement, He’s Real Gone will long be viewed as a better late than never pop masterpiece from Mott The Hoople legend, Overend Watts.

MWE3 (September 2017)


Overend Watts’ solo album has been a long time coming. Something like eighteen years by my reckoning – he first talked about recording an album in issue 2 of Two Miles From Heaven magazine in November 1999…

Many of the songs are inspired by Overend’s varied life experiences, either from running his own shop (The Dinosaw Market, Belle Of The Boot) or pursuing his hobby of carp fishing (The Legend Of Redmire Pool). Overend plays all the instruments himself – normally my heart sinks when I read this, but here Overend acquits himself well. Even the drums are inventive rather than perfunctory, as are the keyboards. A true solo album but which sounds like a band – others should take note…

…Overend has said that when he started writing in earnest (for MOTT’s Drive On) he didn’t really know about hooks and choruses. I’m pleased to say he has got everything right here, with Rise Up being another strong track with a great hook and chorus. Rise up – before they shoot you down!

There’s a lot to like here. It took me two or three listens to “get it”, but get it I have. Recommended.

Hunter-mott .com (August 2017)


Recorded towards the end of his days, it would be lovely to report that He’s Real Gone captures everything that made Watts so unique, from the towering platforms and the silver hair, to the humor, artistry and vision that characterized his work way-back-when. Lovely, and true.

From start to finish, He’s Real Gone is a delight; lyrically light-hearted, buoyant as a balloon, and so determined not to take anything seriously that you almost overlook how magnificently constructed and exquisitely played the thirteen new tracks are.

The titles give a lot away – “The Legend of Redmire Pool”, “Prawn Fire on Uncle Sheep Funnel,” “There’s Berkeley Power Station”…there are few ruminations on life, the universe and everything here, and who’d have wanted them if they were? Watts’s onstage persona was almost cartoonish (how could it have been much else with that tailor?), and alone in the studio with a broad array of instruments, that’s the side that he indulges.

Yet it’s not an album you put on just for laughs. The songs are genuinely powerful (“Caribbean Hate Song” might be the best, but I’ve changed my time six times already), and the playing and production are spot on. Yes, there are certainly echoes of past friends and peers on display, including a touch of Roy Harper around the vocals, but it’s Watts’s album all the way through, still jammed with all the pleasures that were so much a part of his writing “back in the day,” and occasionally allowing them to shine through even louder than before.

“He’d Be a Diamond” has a hook and harmonies that the mid-sixties would have given their last pair of Beatle boots for; “Magic Garden” feels like a lost John Otway classic; “Belle of the Boot” is unadulterated punk rock. And the only regret, as the album comes to an end, is that Watts waited so long to make it. If this is the music he spent forty years bottling up, we lost out on some of the most extraordinarily enjoyable albums in history.

Goldmine Magazine (August 2017)


Bass player Pete “Overend” Watts is best remembered these days for his sterling exploits with glam rockers Mott the Hoople during the early seventies, and the Birmingham born musician did his best to keep the band’s name alive after creative mainstays Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs left the fold in 1974. His efforts were sadly doomed to failure however, and Watts took a back seat from performing to concentrate on record production, only completing “He’s Real Gone,” his first solo album shortly before his untimely death from throat cancer earlier this year. His musical epitaph is a typically quirky and unpredictable affair which should be required listening for MTH devotees everywhere.

Kevin Bryan, regional newspapers (August 2017)


“He’s Real Gone” is the long-awaited CD by the much loved Overend Watts, the bassist and founding member of the mighty Mott The Hoople who sadly passed away earlier this year. The CD contains eleven brand new compositions by Overend together with two cover versions plus the original demo of “Born Late ’58″ which dates back to “The Hoople” LP.

Imbued with Overend’s eccentric, warm hearted personality, “He’s Real Gone” is by turn quirky, amusing and, at times, it must be said, somewhat slightly odd. But beneath all that is a fascinating collection of songs that give you an insight into the World of Watts with wry, humorous tales of Herefordshire life, Car Boot Sales, ghosts, fishing, cups of tea in Acton and attractive young ladies in Tesco.

Musically, the album covers a wide range of styles from psychedelia (“Prawn Fire on Uncle Sheep Funnel”) to pop, rock and folk. There’s even a bit of faux jazz (Nice!) thrown in on “The Dinosaw Market.” There’s a distinct Sixties vibe to some of the songs especially on the harmonies and the jangling Byrds-like guitars. “Caribbean Hate Song” recalls Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd while “Belle of the Boot” somehow manages to sound like the love child of The Who and The Kinks.

The two cover versions included here also reflect Overend’s wide ranging love of music and his championing of less well-known acts. “Endless Night” was originally recorded by one of Overend’s favourites, the US psychedelic rock outfit the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, while “He’d Be A Diamond” written by Nick Saloman from The Bevis Frond, was covered by Teenage Fanclub, another band on who Watts was particularly keen.

Keith Smith, editor TMFH (July 2017)

 

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