With the onset of the 1990s and the conclusion of The Weather Prophets, Pete Astor was in the mood for some artistic regeneration. To this end, he recruited a new group of musicians and friends, forming The Holy Road. The band consisted of erstwhile Felt and Everything But The Girl guitarist Neil Scott, bassist Chris Clarke, (soon to become a key member of both The Rockingbirds and Danny and the Champions of the World), and drummer Russell Lax, late of The Oyster Band and Billy Childish’s Pop Rivets.
While much of the UK was – in the words of Jarvis Cocker – standing in a field, sorted for Es and Whizz, Astor maintained his commitment to his version of an English Chanson tradition. As such, he was adopted by a new French audience, coalescing around the anglophile gospel of the influential magazine Les Inrockuptibles who lionised Astor’s work – whether it be ‘Why Does The Rain?’, courtesy of his first Creation band, The Loft, or The Weather Prophets’ demi-anthem ‘Almost Prayed’, or his more recent solo work on ‘Submarine’ and ‘Zoo’.
And so arrived Paradise, becoming for many the album in which Astor, along with The Holy Road, most perfectly expressed his indubitable facility as a singer and songwriter. All his enduring musical references – from classic British guitar pop to New-York punk via the blues and even jazz – seem to blend into a fully-formed vision, one which envisions a kind of mythic America whilst always cleaving to European, and specifically British, roots.
Twenty-seven years later, with Tapete’s re-release, Paradise is a vital addition to a body of work which sounds as good now as it did then.