Mark Gillespie – Unplugged

Album Review | Chocolate Factory | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

I first came across Mark Gillespie quite by accident, whilst browsing through the paperback section of his father’s book shop in the heart of the Peak District.  Gillespie’s soulful reading of Bill Withers’ classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” filtered through the speaker above my head and I decided that it was just the thing to soothe the senses whilst flicking through a nearly new copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.  I enquired at the counter and with no small measure of pride the chap said “Oh, this is my son, what do you reckon?”  I reckoned I needed to take home a copy for a better listen thank you very much.  Unplugged bears all the hallmarks of the original MTV Unplugged series of the Nineties; intimate setting, mostly acoustic instruments, definitely ‘plugged in’ but not necessarily loud and overbearing, in fact quite pleasantly relaxing.  The album sleeve even provides a polite warning for purists, that the CD in fact contains two electric bass tracks and an electric guitar solo.  Stockport-born Gillespie is better known in his adopted home of Germany where he now lives and works.  Unplugged brings together a selection of self-penned songs that blend in perfectly well alongside soulful versions of pop classics by the likes of Bob Marley “Waiting in Vain”, Sting “Probably Me”, Seal “Crazy” and Snow Patrol “Chasing Cars”.  There is nothing forced on Unplugged, the mood is consistently relaxed throughout, bringing together some of Gillespie’s ‘street performance’ repertoire, that is, the most popular songs used in his busking days.  I have slight reservations over the inclusion of “Winter Wonderland” but every busker has to have at least one Christmas song in his repertoire.  The album draws to a close with a delightful instrumental piece “3angels” written and performed by bassist Peter Herrmann.