Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud (Third Man Records)

Gina Birch – I Play My Bass Loud (Third Man Records)

Sometimes I wake up/and I wonder/What is my job/I play my bass loud!

Thus opens Gina Birch‘s debut solo album, as the the sometime Raincoats bassist sets out a stall for a thrilling album. As she says herself ‘The bass is sometimes assigned as a lesser instrument, and yet because of reggae and the creativity of a lot of women players, it has always been a creative and phenomenal instrument.’

It’s over forty years since that debut self-titled Raincoats record – and it should be stated that this is not merely an attempt to rehash that record. The follow-up, Odyshape, went even further, perhaps unnerving an audience who may not have been ready for it. As has been documented numerous times, a certain Kurt Cobain was reportedly more chuffed about owning their debut again than making his first million (I interviewed the Raincoats over a decade ago and they were happy to have his endorsement). Irrespective of who they’ve influenced, though, it’s just a brilliant album. It’s been co-produced with the legendary Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, sometime bassist of contemporaries Killing Joke (amongst a very long CV).

It also takes in many different influences, yet laid together this album is more than just the sum of its parts. If you’ve been paying attention, the earlier release of the title track and the punky ‘Wish I Was You‘ are just two different aspects of this album. There’s also a fair amount of humour and feminism, playing off against each other brilliantly on ‘I Will Never Wear Stilettos,’ which harks back to the days when punks needed to wear shoes that would enable them to runaway from teddy boys in the 1970s. Ms. Birch draws upon her years of experience in the fields of music, art and film to produce a record that is truly of herself.

For those familiar with those Raincoats albums (and if not, get yourself acquainted quickly!), this record may be a more polished and assured record than those albums, but nothing has been compromised here. On its own, it’s a fantastic record that sees her still experimenting and having fun and producing an album worth listening to, again and again, and the different reggae, punk and electronic influences mesh together. Proof that you can experiment and still produce pop songs at the same time, if there was any doubt. There’s a direct line to her heritage of the late seventies, but this record feels contemporary rather than being an attempt to rehash old influences.

‘We are happy‘ she concludes on the album’s closing ‘Let’s Go Crazy‘ (no, not the Prince song). She sounds it, comfortable in her skin, and one that should make you happy, too. This was one of albums I was most looking forward to in 2023, and it more than delivers.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.