A Long Time Coming – Gary Hetherington
Well this is somewhat different to the norm of the music I generally review and to be perfectly honest perhaps not the style of music I would buy these days either but would of brought the odd album and one or two singles many moons ago. Long Time Coming is the title of Gary Hetherington’s debut album and being that Hetherington has been playing for donkeys years you could very much literally say that the album took a very long time coming :))))). I would also say that style of music we have here does throw itself back to the 70’s in that it’s very much an album of romantic love songs. It’s perhaps an album more for the ladies, but then again it all depends on your particular taste in pop music and if you are into bands like The Commodores, Chicago and solo artists like Billy Joel and Lionel Ritchie. Then this album might be right up your street so to speak.
I first stumbled upon Gary’s music a few years ago on Soundcloud although I perhaps first knew of him a few years before through another musician on there who is more of a folkie and goes by the name of Karl Robbins. Traditional folk music is perhaps more to my personal taste and why I gave a lot more attention to Karl’s music than his own. I mostly knew of Gary as a producer and it was he who made all of Karl’s music sound so GREAT! I was making music myself back then I was always fascinated about production work and trying to improve my own production skills. For me the time I spent on Soundcloud was very much a learning curve and as much as I like to listen to GREAT! music, I could quite often be blown away by how well some of the many people on there could produce it, and I was impressed by Gary’s production work.
To be honest at the time I did stumble upon Karl’s music I was not even aware Gary was writing his own songs, and it was not until a few years later they formed together a band called Dancing With Ghosts that I noticed that he had also played a role in writing some of the songs which made me investigate him a bit further.
Gary Hetherington’s own music is quite different to what he does with Karl Robbins and is more along the lines of those pop artists I mentioned and those artists made some GREAT! hits back in their day and were easy enough for me to listen to. Being a producer Hetherington is also a multi-instrumentalist who has the skills to craft out his own music. But before I go any further and get back on track with the album in question. Let’s first take a look at the packaging and artwork as ever.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The CD comes in a single cardboard sleeve which replicates a mini version of a non-gatefold vinyl album. The song titles and some credits are printed on the back of the sleeve and it does not include a booklet to include the lyrics and more informative information regarding the linear notes and credits. These are the same sort of sleeves they pack CD’s in Clamshell Box Sets and other Box Sets these days and I think overall, they are OK but not as good as a gatefold DigiPak for presenting your album as more of a showcase.
The other problem this particular package will present you with, is that they are not the best for storing on the shelf with your other CD’s in that they are too thin making them harder to locate them to get out to play. But of course when you are selling your CD at a budget price of £3.49 plus free p+p it does not make sense to have your album in a DigiPak and cost wise you would most likely end up out pocket by paying more for the product than you are actually selling it for so this is the ideal budget way to go about things.
The artwork used for the album is a picture of an antique spiral clock that was fished out of a river and was snapped up by David Pearson. The image is oddly enough credited to F. P. Surgeon and that is the name that Pearson gives to some of his photographs due to the fact that his profession is that of a Facial Plastic Surgeon and he does photography in his spare time. I think the image is well apt for the albums title and I can see why Hetherington chose it.
A Long Time Coming Album In Review…
A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington was released on the 4th November 2019. The album contains 9 tracks all of which are vocal tracks and has an overall playing time of 40 minutes which is a very comfortable time slot for an album of songs and my preferred time slot for an album. Most of the material is written by Hetherington himself apart from a couple of songs that were co-written and a song that was written by myself to which he asked me for permission (to which I granted) and decided to cover. Like many unknown artists and even some mainstream artists these days, the album was recorded at home but is very well produced.
Hetherington got into music at an early age and received his first organ at the age of 11 and by the time he was 14 he got his first real guitar. Since leaving school, he has been in a number of bands Oakwood, Pheonix, Gypsy to name a few most of which were with Karl Robins and Peter Dunk who all come from Leeds in Yorkshire, England. He is currently a member of Osmosis along with Karin Grandal-Park, Sheree Hemingway and Peter Dunk.
The album A Long Time Coming is a collection of songs that Gary has written over the last year and put together for the new album. Most of his own solo work consists of more instrumental pieces than anything else and being a keyboard player myself I can see how easy it is to get stuck into that world of making instrumental pieces especially with the vast array of sounds you can get for a keyboard these days. The keyboard can open up a much wider world of music to you in that you can get orchestral sounds for classical music, sounds for Celtic and Folk music and just about any genre of music. It’s also the ideal instrument to work with arrangements.
I would not say all of the songs Gary wrote for the new album were written from the keyboard though and some were also written from the guitar, both instruments are very useful implements to write music with and being able to play both opens up many other roads you can go down regarding musical styles.
Musicians & Credits…
All songs written by Gary Hetherington (except Track 5 written by Hetherington/Hemmingway, Track 7 written by Hetherington/Walton & Track 9 written by L.C. Lucas). Recorded & Produced by Gary Hetherington at The House. Album cover photo by David Pearson.
Gary Hetherington: Vocals/Keyboards/Guitars/Drum Programming.
Karl Robins: Acoustic Guitar (on Track 1).
The Album Tracks In Review…
A Long Time Coming is an album for the lovers and romantics and the words to the songs upon the album are a about falling in and out of love in that it deals with the subject matter based around not just its grip and strong hold it can have on us, but how deceit and cheating can also play a part when everything falls apart so to speak. When I mentioned in the introduction that this was not the style of music I would buy these days, in reality it was also not the thing I would buy for myself back in those days either and the records I did buy of this sort would of been for my wife who does have an entirely different taste in music to myself. That would also be the reason behind me stating that this is an album more for the ladies as well.
To be perfectly honest I have nothing against pop music when it comes down to the musical side of it and there are some very well constructed songs in pop music as well. John Lennon’s song “Woman” would be a perfect example of how well switching from a major to a minor chord can shift a gear and lift a song up and make it work very well. I think there is also a lot you can learn from very well written pop songs too. My only real gripe with pop music in general is the lyrical side of things, and many of them are what I call “Lovey Dovey” and can be on the monotonous side in that respect. Things like “I Love You Love” and “Like To Get To Know You Well” are never gonna cut the mustard with me, simply because it’s all the same thing, and this is generally what you will find in the biggest majority of pop songs.
To be honest I have never really classed the likes of the The Commodores, Chicago, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow and Lionel Ritchie as songwriters and to me your Bob Dylan’s, Neil Young’s, Don McLean’s and those types are what I associate with songwriters. Those are the guys who on their travels have picked up a hell of a lot more to write about than your typical run of the mill pop or love song. Sure, they can also incorporate some of that love and romance in their own songs, but they don’t write about it all the time and make their songs much more interesting for not doing so.
But in reality, even though I see those artists more in the way of songwriters it would be wrong for me to not include all those pop artists who write nothing but love songs. Simply because what also makes a good song is how the words have been put into context and that is part of the clever side of song writing and you still need a good head on your shoulders to be able to do that.
A Long Time Coming is an album that does contain a fine set of lyrics that pertain not only to the romantic side of things, but also the pain and hurt one can go through with its barriers and the words have been very cleverly put into context and are a far cry from “I Love You Love“. So, let’s now delve a bit deeper as I take you through the individual album tracks.
Track 1. Keep On Moving.
The album opens up with a song that offers some very good advice. Lyrically the words are pertaining to those who have been kicked in the teeth and left on their own when a relationship breaks down. The good advice is that its best to look forward and keep on moving rather than look back at it all to see where things went wrong. I suppose another way of looking at it is to pick your feet up and get on with things. The words have very well been put into context and with how Hetherington expresses them along with the music does captivate you enough to pay attention to them. He’s also backed up the vocals very well and threw in a lovely harmony section during the short break that comes in towards the end of the song.
The song itself has a light and airy feel about it and musically it’s a bit more stripped back but allows the song to flow freely. The song was written on the acoustic guitar and that is the instrument that drives the song along with the drums. Gary roped in his old friend and fellow musician Karl Robins to play the acoustic guitar and Karl is a fine player of the instrument, although on this occasion he is strumming his way along and not doing so much of the fine picking he can do on his own songs. But overall, he is still doing a GRAND! job here and doing all that a song like this requires and not going over the top. Hetherington himself backs the song up with the piano and throws in some subtle effective little touches on the electric guitar in parts. The other notable thing he throws in is the synth, and it does have a familiarity of the type of synth you would hear in most pop songs in the 70’s. Stevie Wonder often threw the odd little melody line on the synth and it many ways it takes me back to those days.
Overall I think “Keep On Moving” is a GREAT! song and puts me in mind of the type of pop songs you would hear back in the 70’s. The acoustic side of the song has me thinking of Crosby & Nash, The Eagles and those types whilst the synth certainly gives it more of a pop vibe and has me thinking of Stevie Wonder and the likes of many others. It’s perhaps one of those songs that can make you feel good inside whilst listening to it, and in many ways that is also what the lyrics are pertaining too as well.
Track 2. Thief In The Night.
This next song has got more soul to it and does put me in mind of bands like the The Commodores, The Temptations and many others and was written on the piano, or rather the electric piano that gives it those smooth and calm vibes. The song runs along at a very subtle slow tempo to set the right mood here and besides the piano the strings from the keyboard also play a good role in lifting the song up effectively in the right parts. There is also some nice bass work here too that is most likely done with the keyboards. The drums have the right weight for a subtle song like this and Gary has done an excellent job on the electric guitar by getting the right tone and the lead break is played very well and fits the song like a glove. His fine voice also delivers the words very well and it’s a very well-produced song.
I am pretty sure this is Gary’s favourite song on the album and he did approach me and asked if I could make a video for it. It’s something I would have done if it was not for the subject matter of the songs lyrics which pertain to a guy who is in a relationship with another woman but has to break it off because he cannot stand the thought of the leaving his wife and kids behind. It would be hard for me to find the appropriate free stock video clips to make a video and is something I would more or less need real people to act out the part. Which is why I never done a video for it.
“A Thief In The Night” is not my personal favourite track on the album, however I do feel it is a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! It’s a simple enough song and sometimes it is the simple things that do have the power to grab you more, and this is one of those songs I feel does very much that.
Track 3. I Think I Love You.
The title reminds me of a hit by David Cassidy back in the days when he was in The Partridge Family in the late 60’s, and some of the titles that Hetherington chose for his songs on the album are the same as some other well-known hits. This is another of the guitar written songs and I am pretty sure Gary is playing a 12 string on this fine ballad of a song and he has nicely accompanied it with an accordion like sound from the keyboards and a bit of electric piano. The instrumentation gives it more of a folk style and the way the 12 string is nicely fingerpicked puts me in mind of Ralph McTell and its a lovely little love song that says most things about being in love.
Track 4. So Leave Me By Myself For Now.
Another song that deals with the situation of love breaking down and, in this case, wanting to be left alone to sort things out and get them back together again. This is a song he co-wrote with Sheree Hemmingway and she contributed to the lyrics and from what Gary told me it was also the first time she had written words to a song. I have to say she done quite a remarkable job. This is also another song written on the piano and it does have a bit of Supertramp feel to it in parts. I quite like the chord progression in this song too and it’s got a GREAT! bridge that changes it up that comes into play between the 3:22 to the 3:52 mark and this is what gives me that Supertramp feel about the song more than anything.
Besides the piano and his voice, Gary also backed the song up very well with orchestral strings, guitar and bass and has done a GREAT! job all round here. Both this song and “A Thief In The Night” I do feel are the stand out tracks on the album and although it would of been too difficult to gather up the appropriate free video stock footage clips to do a video for “A Thief In The Night“. I did have a go at putting one together for this song and I used 12 video clips to make it.
“So Leave Me By Myself For Now” is a GREAT! well written song. It’s most likely the chord progression and the Supertramp feel that make it my personal favourite song of the album and why it merits my TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 5. It Must Be Love.
We have another familiar title for this next song and even though it might suggest that this is a song done by Labi Siffre back in 1972 and was also covered by Madness in the 80’s to which both had commercial success with the song, this is not that song and Gary rocks things up a bit here. The song does have perhaps something like a Dave Edmunds style about it in particular with how it drives along with the rock rhythm chords on the guitar. It would of also have been constructed from the guitar and it does have more of a 70’s feel about it. Although the synths can also push it a bit further on and into the 80’s but only very slightly.
There are no broken hearts in this one regarding the lyrics and they are more about the joyful and powerful feeling that love can have hold on us with its attraction and of how to pluck up enough courage to confront it. The lyrics also have a comical side to them too in that how sometimes it’s hard to get our brains in gear and come out with the right words when it confronts us. “It Must Be Love” is quite a jolly song that spices the mood of the album up and the one thing I will say is that you cannot say that Hetherington does not offer a bit of variety and diversity with the songs on the album and this song sits very well in the middle of the album.
Track 6. Love Drifts Away.
Time to tone things down a bit and this is a BEAUTIFUL! ballad that Gary has composed on the piano and is perhaps something along the lines of Billy Joel and many others in some respects but no doubt Gary has a wonderful way of putting all these sad love songs into context regarding the lyrics and delivers the songs with the GREAT! conviction. Besides his fine voice and the GORGEOUS! melody lines on the piano that make the song, the bass stands out and supports it all very well. The guitar sound is very much played on the keyboards and it may have been better to replace it with a real guitar rather than a synthetic one. But nevertheless, it’s effective and I do feel that “Love Drifts Away” is another strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 7. Enough Is Enough.
Gary gets the 12 string out again for this one and this is the shortest track on the album at around three and a half minutes. Part of the melody line on the guitar reminds me of “Only Woman Bleed” by Alice Cooper and yes even he can write fine ballads as well. The keyboards, bass and electric guitar also lend a hand to the arrangement and in supporting the song. Lyrically the words are pertaining to the things that happen when love has gone stale in a loving relationship and how it can be enough to put an end to it all. This is the other of the 2 songs on the album that were co-written and Emma Walton penned the lyrics for this one and another fine set of lyrics they are too.
Track 8. Such A Fool.
Another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! and this is another truly GREAT! song written on the keys by Gary and he has done a TOP JOB! with all the instrumentation around the piano in the arrangement. The songs lyrics pertain to how sometimes we do not get things that right when it comes to choosing a partner and things do not quite work out the way we expected them too. It’s very much a quality well written song and it’s one of those that seems to be over in no time at all. The song is some 4 minutes and 40 seconds long but only seems like it runs for half of the time. I often find when a song can do that it’s more of an enjoyable one and one you will want to stick back on immediately. This is very much one of those songs.
Track 9. A Picture of You.
Well I never thought I would ever be writing a review of one of my own songs, but what I can say is that the way Gary has done it, I very much think he has made it his own. It’s a song I wrote on the guitar and it was one of four guitar tracks I had in mind for a concept album I was working on back in 2010. Like many of the tracks I had intended for it they never got finished and this was one I never even wrote any lyrics for back then and I would often pick up my guitar and just sing anything to it for many years. I very much gave up on the album and down to the fact that I still do the odd live video of myself playing in my living room, last year I decided to write some lyrics for it and stick it on YouTube.
Like many of my songs they are only really demos and it’s very rare I will do a full production to them and I have only done that to very few. Throwing in all the elements takes a lot more time to do and half the time I cannot be arsed to do that with them and am too lazy to do that to them as well. It was around the time I put the video out on the Tube last year that Gary approached me and asked if he would not mind if he done a cover of the song. Well I was quite choked that anybody would even want to cover one of my own songs and of course said GO Ahead!
It must have been a good 11 months before I heard anything off Gary and I thought he may have given up on doing a cover of it, then all of a sudden, he sent me his version of it to which he done on the piano. Well I was that STOKED! when I heard it, I ended up making a video for it, and this is the song now with a full production and I can tell you he’s done the BEES KNEES! with it.
To be honest I was even more surprised that he had included the song on his new album and I am not entirely sure the sad fictional story I wrote for the song ties in that well with the rest of the lyrical content on the album, and it may sound a bit out of place but would work more as a bonus track in some respects. I am well chuffed that he did include it though and I do think it’s one of my better songs. It’s also the first time I have ever had one of my songs on CD too :)))))).
Overall I think “A Picture Of You” works very well with the piano arrangement and I love the subtle way Gary has approached it on the beginning and how he has built it up and even threw in a sax solo. Though I think the sax may of been played on the keys unless he does also play sax. I have not asked and I perhaps should have done for this review. I cannot recall Gary playing the sax though and I am most likely right that it was played on the keyboard. But it works very well either way for my ears.
With all that Gary has done with the song I do feel that this also has to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! It’s also the best compliment you could ever have when somebody else covers one of your own songs and I feel it winds up the album very well. But all credit goes to Gary here and not myself.
To sum up the album A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington. I personally think that it contains a very strong collection of very well written love songs and will work for all the romantics in this world. Surprisingly I am quite flabbergasted how an album like this can grab hold of you when listening to it, and it is the lyrical content that does grab your attention that much that the songs actually make you stop whatever you are doing to listen to them. This is not an album I can put on and sit down here and write an album review. I have tried too but it does stop me in my tracks and derives all my attention towards the album. Considering these are not the type of albums I do buy these days I am quite dumbstruck the hold it does have on me.
I think it also will have that effect on the folks who are more of my own generation and not so much the younger generation where the lyrical content is more on the permissive and sexual side of things and has been since we hit the 80’s and onwards since the birth of bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood and all the those sorts in the pop world. The fact the album is titled A Long Time Coming could also mean that it’s come a good few decades too late to have an impact. But in all honesty the songs on this album are in every inch just as well written as all those bands and artists like The Commodores, Chicago, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Lionel Ritchie and many others done back in the 70’s. And if that floats your boat then I see no reason why this album would not either.
My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Thief In The Night“. “So Leave Me By Myself For Now“. “Love Drifts Away“. “Such A Fool“. and “A Picture Of You“.
In conclusion I would say that A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington is an album that captures and captivates the hearts, the heartaches and all the emotions of love all wrapped up and rolled into quite a solid body of work that Gary Hetherington has put in over the last year. The album is very well produced and Gary is one talented musician with a fine head on his shoulders to be able to put the words into context in the way that he has. Not forgetting the lyrical contributions to a couple of songs that both Sheree Hemmingway and Emma Walton contributed to.
To be honest just thinking of the lyrical content that was written for both “Relax” and “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood I would pretty much say that Gary was a genius when I look at how poor the words to those songs really are, and in all honesty there is totally nothing to them. But then again that was the difference between 80’s music and the 70’s and why the 80’s detested me so much with the garbage that came out of it. Most of them could not write for TOFFEE! I am afraid. But of course, that is my own personal opinion.
The album comes in one little neat package and a giveaway price at its a low price point of £3.49 for a physical product and with Christmas around the corner I rather think you could bring some pleasure to someone’s heart which is why I highly recommend it. You can buy it from here: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/323969385968?fbclid=IwAR3I-JG-bQVUxPCXq0NAJcZBljCB5mO8Q8PERhE46x5iTHI2m-Q901hPJjk
Singing Good Times Or Bad, Happy Or Sad…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Keep On Moving. 3:55.
02. Thief In The Night. 5:00.
03. I Think I Love You. 3:52.
04. So Leave Me By Myself For Now. 5:01.
05. It Must Be Love. 4:18.
06. Love Drifts Away. 4:17.
07. Enough Is Enough. 3:28.
08. Such A Fool. 4:40.
09. A Picture of You. 5:29.