432-1: Open The Vein by Nasher – Essential Listening for Contemporary Britain (and beyond)

As I mentioned in my post about influential albums

432-1 is a great album from Nasher (Brian Nash). If you’re on Twitter you should be following Nasher and reading his wonderful posts with his views on life and current affairs. The powerful lyrics and soulful tunes are a delight. Although the content means that it’s not for playing in front of the family. If you buy it, get the physical one; the presentation from the box to the design of the CD is beautiful and you’ll get a personalised message too.

But I wanted to do an additional post, adding more detail about this.

Let’s begin with the basics, for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the name. Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash was a member of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. He has gone on to do some of his own solo work and 432-1: Open The Vein was released in 2017 (on my birthday, 1 May, of all days).

You may be wondering why I am reviewing the album in more detail, four years on. There are a variety of reasons.

First, when it was originally released is largely irrelevant – after all many of us still listen to music from many years, if not decades, ago. But, particularly as an independent artist (and I have the same issue as an independent author), it can be difficult to get your work known. I have come across many Frankie fans who had no idea that Nasher had released albums, or even his book “Nasher Says Relax” (or if they knew about the book, they didn’t know that there is also an excellent audiobook version narrated by Nasher himself), let alone the wider public.

Second, the words of many of the songs are so relevant to the world we live in today (in the UK, especially). In many respects the album is the natural musical accompaniment to what Nasher often writes about on Twitter.

Third, over the past year or so I have been working on a book about Frankie fans and Frankie Goes To Hollywood – see Frankie Fans Say. Due to this I went to Liverpool in August 2021 to visit the special Frankie exhibition at the British Music Experience and met Nasher, spending an amazing day being shown around by him and having drinks – including at the Bridewell, where Frankie used to practice.

With Nasher at the amazing Lucy In The Sky

I owe a lot to Nasher. So the least I can do is help make the world more aware of an album that I know he is very, and rightly, proud of.

If you’re wondering about the number in the title – it refers to the RPM of a CD and there being one side. There are 12 tracks on the album – two of which are noted on Amazon (for example) as being explicit. I’m not sure what genre the album falls into (I’m not really sure what genre Frankie even falls into, come to that). I guess it’s a kind of folk/country/blues music feel. I don’t really like pigeon-holing music into genre anyway. I suppose it’s a slightly more chilled 21st Century version of Billy Bragg. Not even that much more chilled, in fact.

The first track is ‘Salt in Our Veins’ and is my favourite on the album – the lyrics of which have additional poignancy for me after having been shown around Liverpool, of which the track is an homage to, by Nasher himself.

‘Still Can’t Find The One’ follows in a similar vein, but is much more about life in general than about Liverpool – although the lyrics appear to be about music on the surface.

‘I Spy’ is another of my favourites on the album. It’s a bit slower than the first two tracks and is a haunting track about the state of UK today (even though it was released 4 years ago). I look forward to a day when the song seems less relevant.

‘Whole’ is a track built largely on a nostalgic view of childhood memories. Very powerful lyrics again that I’m sure will help many listeners conjure up images of their own lives growing up.

‘Katies’ – is listed as one of the explicit tracks on the album. Let’s be clear, the language is nothing worse than you will hear on the street or use in conversation – but perhaps not a track to have playing in the car with kids/grandchildren… although these are probably the exact people, or at least the exact generation, who need to be hearing the track and the message in it, for this song is a stinging attack on the nastier side of the younger generation (not that anyone is saying that it was necessarily that different when we were all younger).

‘Prostitutes And Cocaine’ is a rockier track than many on the album is a stinging attack on modern politicians (albeit perhaps a little dated due to the use of certain politician names). Again, it may not be one to be playing in front of kids, but I really love the track and it’s probably my favourite alongside the opening track on the album. There is also a video of this track on YouTube…

‘Just Sounds Like Noise’ – slows things back down again and, like ‘Whole’, this track is powered by a nostalgic view of days gone by. This time the focus is particularly on Saturday night TV viewing. With classic clips from 1970s/1980s TV (and a great finish from something more contemporary) thrown in, this track is one that many listeners will be able to relate to, no doubt.

‘Pebbles To Dust’ is another powerful ballad that fits with one of the main themes of the album, where you really will want to listen and contemplate the lyrics.

‘Where Will The Kids Live’ is the second of the explicit tracks. This time Nasher takes a swipe at the modern housing crisis in the UK. It’s another track that includes some media clips – which probably do date the track a bit as the PM was Cameron. Perhaps that doesn’t matter – but, for me, it’s more a shame to have the track is polluted by the voice of one of the worst PMs in British history, but I totally understand why it’s there.

‘Nothing Homes’ – I know this is going to sound repetitive, but the lyrics of this track are also very powerful. In many respects this is a track that bonds all of the other tracks together in terms of the themes that are developed in more detail in them.

‘XO’ is the other faster/pop-ier track on the album. I have to admit, out of the whole album, this is the one where the lyrics didn’t speak to me as much – but perhaps I just need to listen to it some more (or I could cheat and ask Nasher directly, I guess). It’s a great tune, so no problem doing that.

‘Yesterday’s News’ is a very powerful ending to the album. No danger of Nasher going off quietly into the sunset at the end of this album. If you are not familiar with Nasher, there is a danger that some of the lyrics could be misinterpreted by some (just as so many pop songs over the years have been – I’m thinking in particular of ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen or ‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams here) – there are few people I have met who are as outspoken in favour of a multi-racial, fair and accepting UK. Once you really listen to the lyrics and understand what the song is about, you cannot help but by moved by it. For more discussion about this post see my post The Power of Frankie and Going to Liverpool.

Be aware that if you have the physical CD, the track runs to over ten-and-a-half minutes as, after a long silence (about 20 seconds or so), there is an additional ‘Easter egg’ (hidden) song (which I don’t think is on the digital only version). This is much gentler in tone than the track name that it appears under, but feels like a reflection on what came before – much how I could imagine people gathering around a fire after a war and thinking about what happened and how everything could have been so much better if the politicians hadn’t messed things up. The lyrics contain many references to David Bowie, who Nasher was a fan of. In the end it turns out that Nasher does go somewhat quietly off into the sunset on this album. I hope we don’t have to wait too much longer for the next one.

Overall, as I noted in my originally comments about the album, make sure you buy this album and get the physical one; the presentation from the box to the design of the CD is beautiful and you’ll get a personalised message too. The album is fabulous combination of lyrics, guitar playing, and singing by Nasher.

Also, as I noted in the original post mentioning ‘432-1’, you really should follow Nasher on Twitter. You may not agree with everything he says and you may find some of the language colourful, but, honestly, it’s what we all need from time to time (and I largely do agree with everything he posts… though not so much the bits relating to Liverpool FC!).

You should also follow Nasher on Instagram – both his personal account: https://instagram.com/nasher63?utm_medium=copy_link and the one related to his celebrant role: https://instagram.com/nasherthecelebrant?utm_medium=copy_link

Here are links to Nasher’s homepage and to buy 432-1 and his other CDs to date

Also see “Nasher Says Relax” book review.

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