I get it. You’re busy. You’ve got bills to pay and chores and a job and people who depend on you. You’re in a hurry, understandably, so the short version is that you should go get ‘Health & Social Care‘, the third full-length record by a Nottingham-based quartet of music veterans named Grey Hairs. It’s real good.
If you’ve got a bit more time before you clock in or finish your break or pick up the kids – or if you need more convincing because money’s tight – then the first thing I want you to know is that Grey Hairs make the kind of great big rock records that you need. ‘Hydropona’, the first song on ‘Health & Social Care’, opens with broken speaker fuzz and feedback-y guitar noise paired with a trudging beat and bass line, huge and slow. It builds, getting more and more tense and oppressive – like the work week, and your dwindling bank balance – for a long while. Then after about a minute and a half the music switches to this massive riff with a rock-n-roll vocal to match. Appropriately, the first word on the record is a long and heartfelt “YEAAAAAAH!”
Can you remember the last time you shouted yeah like that? You know, when you were overcome with a sense of how great your life is? Or when, with a sheer act of will, you pushed aside all the drudgery to make yourself feel pure delight? I think you and I both know that it’s been a while, no offense. Most people aren’t in that headspace that often, especially if you set aside music and drug-related experiences. Lots of people think they can duck out from under society’s arms of control that try to stop what we do. Yet we mostly all end up busy with bills and chores and bosses and the slow accumulation of aches and pains – and let’s not even get into regrets and might have beens.
It all adds up after a while and maybe you start to wonder “How will I get out of this?” as Grey Hairs ask in a big gang vocal on the album’s third track ‘Ghost In Your Own Life’. It might be “Get over this”, I don’t have a copy of the album’s lyrics. Either way, it’s an arresting lyric, and this is the kind of record where you want to know all the words so you can belt it out with them. And if you don’t know the words you’ll probably say fuck it and sing along anyway because the band is wicked charismatic.
‘Ghost In Your Own Life” answers its how question first with a searing howl of “I can not do it!” (If you’ve never felt that way then you’re probably a psycho or a Tory MP; please know that you’re not included whenever a human being says ‘we’). This is one of the many reasons we need music, which all correct-thinking people know is the very best art form. Music dramatises the hard times in a way that makes us feel a connection to other people. It helps us remember that even when we don’t know how, as Grey Hairs answer their how question a second time around: “You and I will get over this!”
Grey Hairs have made me wonder, and I say this in complete seriousness, if maybe music itself is a form of health and care (fund the arts, like the NHS, for the health of us all). ‘Health & Social Care’ is a middle-aged weight-lifter, making something of herself because she’s worth it, and making you want to do the same. ‘Health & Social Care‘ sounds like the process of rising above, without denying how much work it took to do so. ‘Health & Social Care’ stares the hard times in the face until they flinch and back down. ‘Health & Social Care’ is a group of friends laughing and drinking to the memory of another friend who is gone.
We need great big rock records as an antidote to the ways the world makes us feel small. ‘Health & Social Care‘ is a mood-lifting good time of a great big rock record that will make you want to yell yeah a lot more often, and make you really mean it, which we all deserve.