A star rating for Richard Dawson’s latest and most widely released album, is all but irrelevant. Those who like Nothing Important may claim it is a remarkable, heartfelt statement of individuality. Those who don’t may be unable to see its point. For this is music that actually sounds wrong: a guitar playing melodies that sound like some analogue of Les Dawson’s piano routines, or, as Eric Morecambe put it: “All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”. If anything, it’s a distinctly English folk equivalent of Captain Beefheart’s deconstruction of the blues. The centrepieces are two 16-minute songs, the title track and The Vile Stuff, in which reveries of childhood spiral off in curious directions. At first, they sound like musical and lyrical streams of consciousness, but patterns emerge. Dawson’s lyrics – often hard to decipher, but resembling matter-of-fact diary entries rather than verse-chorus-verse songs – throw up unexpected images. The title track’s school trip, for instance, gives way to him piercing his hand with a Phillips-head screwdriver while trying to crack open a coconut shell, resulting in surgery on a severed tendon. More than most noise albums, or deliberately confrontational music, this is a record that unsettles and subverts. Whether it’s a masterpiece or a fraud will become apparent with the passage of time.
Richard Dawson: Nothing Important review
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian