Clive Langer and the Boxes

  • Clive Langer and the Boxes
  • I Want the Whole World EP (UK Radar) 1979 
  • Splash (UK F-Beat) 1980 
  • Hope, Honour, Love (UK Demon) 1988 

The big disappointment of producer Clive Langer’s solo career is that he doesn’t give it top priority. Presumably freed from financial pressures by making (with partner Alan Winstanley for the most part) hit records for, among others, Madness and Dexys (later, the Smiths and Bush), the talented singer/guitarist — judging by his dismaying lack of “product” — seems to take only passing interest in making records of his own.

As chief songwriter for the late Deaf School, Langer successfully mated the music hall tradition with highly melodic rock’n’roll, topped off with anxious lyrics about modern-day pressures — i.e., a cross between the Kinks and Roxy Music. His solo works are more personal, and lean decidedly to the Ray Davies school, partly because Langer’s weary singing has a similar charm.

The five tunes on I Want the Whole World are nearly perfect vignettes of anger, tenderness and regret, performed with casual ingenuousness. Though less effective, Splash has its moments, including the charming “Had a Nice Night” and the embarrassingly abject “Splash (A Tear Goes Rolling Down).” Elvis Costello, a frequent client of Langer’s, produced two of the tracks.

Hope, Honour, Love summarizes the album and the EP, adding “Even Though” from a subsequent single. Clive Langer seems like a guy you wouldn’t mind inviting to your house for dinner.

[Jon Young]

See also: Deaf School