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Out on his own
In which Bob reflets on his solo albums.
Jackie Hayden, 28 Mar 2006
Sex, Age And Death came next, in 2001. By that stage his personal life was in turmoil. The man acclaimed by many for saving countless lives had been through the wringer in his own.
His wife Paula had left him for INXS singer Michael Hutchence – and, in a tragedy that would haunt him, and in different ways shape his life and his thinking, had committed suicide. He later admitted, “My life was fucking ruined. It took me a long, long time to feel able to breathe. Pete, my lifelong mate, would come around every day and set up his bits and pieces. I barely acknowledged his presence. I’d grunt occasionally. Eventually, without really thinking there was any musical plan or even any coherent thought, I’d just bang away on the guitar and gradually, over the course of 18 months, stuff came together, I was quite literally unmanned. Every single sense had gone.
“So, out of it came Sex Age and Death, which I think is a really fucking good record. It’s almost like it’s not my record. I can be objective about the others, but not this one. It’s divorce porn, really. The problem with anyone who does this stuff is that you only seem to be able to get a grip on what’s happened to you through the mechanism of writing songs. The songs themselves seem to explain what’s happened, though you’re not aware of it at the time.”
It took the unveiling of Great Songs Of Indifference – The Bob Geldof Anthology 1986-2000, which was released in 2005, to enable us to put some perspective on his solo input while we parked his humanitarian work temporarily out of sight.
The anthology repackaged the four solo albums plus two dozen new tracks, and emphasized that while Geldof has a Ray Davies-like eye for the details of everyday life and the hint of Dylanesque way with language and melody, he can also give his work a truly contemporary edge. Indeed, sometimes you get the lot within the same song.
As a Hot Press review at the time argued, the main solo hits ‘Love Or Something’, ‘This Is The World Calling’ and ‘The Great Song Of Indifference’ would be enough to guarantee Geldof a place in rock’s Hall of Fame. But they merely represent the surface of what Geldof was at, and the tracks omitted from official releases underpin the quality of the released material.