REVIEW: Big Ian Donaghy’s verdict on Alan Leach’s debut solo album after Sheds’ exit

Alan Leach: “Like a boxer, he has had the bravery and confidence to drop his hands to wield an unexpected knockout punch”

Alan Leach, I Wish I Knew Now What I Thought I Knew Then, released on November 4

“DON’T get fooled again…”

Whoever thought that Alan Leach was the quirky, cooky Peter Tork character in Shed Seven or just a fantastic Keith Moon-esque drummer who did handsprings over his kit with varying degrees of landing success are so wrong…

Alan has to be one of the most talented, bright people I have ever met with a rare mix of aptitude and creativity.

Basically, in whatever he does, he gets s**t done.

A great drummer…

A proven songwriter…

A cracking studio engineer who never believed he was…

But he WAS!

Then, with his family, they have created Speed Quizzing, which has an ever-growing empire worldwide.

I remember once telling him as he came to my pub quizzes to be tortured…

“Al, it’s a lovely idea but not everyone has these fancy phones!”

I wonder if these ‘fancy phones’ caught on!

Al has always surprised me…

Ever since he managed to get with his amazing wife Jane Leach.

Best deal he ever sealed.

But this new twist has taken me by surprise…

I never saw this coming…

It may surprise you too.

After taking an indefinite break from the Sheds since last year, Alan has made a solo album.

Like a boxer, he has had the bravery and confidence to drop his hands to wield an unexpected knockout punch.

This nine-track album of his self-penned songs are first-listen beautiful…

Like nine peeks behind his curtains, they show you so much.

A Dozen Of Me will enter your head and never leave. The most gentle of earworms with a lifetime of squatters’ rights ahead.

The true joy of these short stories is they don’t try too hard…

Nothing is desperately pioneering, ground-breaking, edgy or clever…

All of the playing is understated – there only to cradle the song…

To fit in…not stand out.

They make me smile and almost teary as they are steeped in growing up in the ’70s and ’80s…a melting pot of 90s’ pop blended with my Mam’s early 70s’ record collection.

In no time, these songs, laden with gentle hooks, feel like old friends without being derivative.

Charming short stories that nonchalantly roll a hand grenade across the table to deliver a poignant killer line when you least expect it.

Get it listened to.

Your ears will thank you.

I Wish I Knew Now What I Thought I Knew Then track listing:

A Dozen Of Me; Clouds Behind The Moon; Erica; Going For A Song; The One Love Generation;
If This Comes Off; Anthem For The Here And Now; Things Like This; Clouds Behind The Moon (orchestral version).

Fact file:

Album engineered and mixed by Mickey Dale.

Former Shed Seven cohort Joe Johnson plays guitar on three numbers, including the co-written Erica.

Alan’s son, Sonny, plays guitar on various tracks. York singer-songwriter Hayley Hutchinson duets on the ballad If This Comes Off.

Alan Leach says:

“ONE small step for everyone else, one giant leap for Alankind. I’ve written, recorded and finally released my solo studio album and it’s available to hear on all the obvious places. It’s a big deal to me as it’s pretty much taken over the last 18 months of my life.

“If you do one thing for me ever, please listen to it from start to finish, tell your friends if you like it and tell absolutely nobody if you don’t. Thanks to everyone who has helped me with this and a big thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time out to listen and share it for me. Cheers all. X”

Alan Leach, Shed Seven drummer from 1990 to 2021, will play two all-seated home-city gigs at The Crescent, York, on December 2 and 3 with a full band in tow. Doors: 7.30pm; on stage, 8.30pm. Tickets:

The poster for Alan Leach’s brace of full-band gigs at The Crescent, York, next month to promote his debut solo album