A Place In Time
Forbidden Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/14/1998
Say the name Mike Gibbins to some younger music fans, and their response would most likely be, "Who?"
Say the name Mike Gibbins to people my age and older, and their response would most likely be, "Ah, from Badfinger! 'Day After Day,' 'Baby Blue'." Gibbins, who refined his chops as a drummer with the seminal British band until they called it a day in the '70s (and before the tragic suicides of two of its members), Gibbins is now striking out on his own with his debut solo effort A Place In Time. And while it is admirable that Gibbins tries to set out on his own separate musical road (not mimicking Badfinger's sound), it shows room for a lot of growth.
One possible problem is that there are only two key members to the band: Gibbins provides drums, vocals and keyboards, as well as writing all the songs and producing the album... oy. It gets to the point where it makes Rick Warsing look like a slacker for only adding guitars, bass and backing vocals. While the do-it-yourself principle is admirable, it does leave room for things to sound half-baked.
Which brings me to the overall sound of the album. While the music, for the most part, is good, the sound of the album just doesn't have the kick I would have expected from a former member of a band that gloried in rich sound. A little more crispness in the mix, and possibly a pinch more treble, and this problem wouldn't have even existed.
As for the songwriting, I seem to sense a lot of anger on the part of Gibbins, especially on the album's opener "Sue Me". I have no inside knowledge about any circumstances surrounding Gibbins and former bandmates, but he's pissed at someone. Why else would he keep repeating on this song that someone's out to "screw me"? Kinda makes you think...
It is a good song, however, as are "Overdue," "Layaway," "Please Please" and the title track. Possibly the best track on A Place In Time is the instrumental "Warcloud," a song I wish had lasted far longer. What is admirable about these tracks - and, for that matter, the whole album - is that they don't sound like Badfinger material, nor do they seem to be what Gibbins thinks Badfinger would have sounded like today. Instead, they're all in a new voice for 1998 - in short, he took the hard road.
Ah, but this turns out to also be the Achilles's heel for Gibbins. For each decent song on A Place In Time, there's an equally weak track. Songs like "Picture Of You," "Rocking The Boat" and the forgettable "Bad Boy Blues" show that there's a lot more work Gibbins has to do on his songwriting. In its defense, had Gibbins made a Badfinger-clone album, it would have failed miserably. At the worst, A Place In Time just shows need for improvement.
Gibbins earned his stripes in the rock world a long time ago; with A Place In Time, he shows he wants to earn them again, this time on his own. While this is an effort that shows promise, it also shows that Gibbins isn't quite there... yet.