Album – Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves – reviews
NME – Gavin Martin (May 27th, 1989)
‘Eschewing currently fashionable national musical traits – Celtic roots revivalism and anthemic rock pride – ‘Each Man’ doesn’t sound the way a major Irish album of ’98 is. But a major album it is. The cabaret waltzes and orchestrated vignettes pursue Friday’s grand tangle of themes – the distance between good and evil, desire and betrayal, faith and salvation – with a singular vision. Bob Dylan’s ‘Death Is Not the End’ joins Wilde’s title track and a cover of Jacques Brel’s sexual nightmare ‘Next’ to give pointers to his own tunes, odes to the benighted, the lost and the lonely. Touching sad scary depths as often as he glimpses hope and new awakenings, Friday is a modern bluesman wearing a showman’s clown mask, he’s a Salvationist of sleaze grappling with the pain of existence.
Musician (February 1990)
Each Man is a rich tapestry of imaginative musical flourishes that allude to wide range of influences, Friday salutes the street songs of ‘30’s Germany and well as the magnificent orchestral punk of Howard Devoto’s Magazine.
OOR – Bert van de Kamp (March 11, 1989)
Especially impressive is Love Is Just a Word. Gavin’s tortured, expressive voice sounds at his best, the music is varied and richly orchestrated. ‘You Take Away the Sun’ is another painful love song, beautifully supported by the sounds of a cello. Next is a Jacques Brel cover, Death Is Not the End one of the more extreme statements of Bob Dylan. Our Man Friday gives them a completely new identity. Somewhere between Marc Almond and Tom Waits there must be a place for Gavin Friday’s damned music. Bittersweet and dangerous as nightshade.
NME – Sean O’Hagan (May 27th, 1989)
In the words of Myles Na Gopaleen, yer man Friday is, even by Ireland’s standards, an ‘inscrutable pancake’. Thus this album comes as a surprise. Reeling in his more outré exhibitionist tendencies, Gavin Friday [ offers up ] 13 choice variations on the contemporary existential malaise – love, sex, loneliness, death and all shades of the human condition in between. The result is a sustained and often startling reinvention of the Brecht-Weill song tradition that merges Friday’s own songs with sympathetic treatments of pervious angst overtures. […] Throughout, the words and music congeal into a world-weary worldview that owes little, God bless him, to the endless babble of contemporary pap, and loads to the wry, realist wisdom of Wilde, Brecht and the rest. ‘ Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves’ is the sound of a man walking out of step, a contemporary dandy with an unfashionable heedful of ideas concerning truth and beauty and their proximity to the gutter. Friday’s particular heart of darkness never drags us downwards, the gleefulness of his delivery speaking volumes about hope, optimism and, above all, mischief.
Melody Maker – Ian Gittins (1989)
His own songs are skilled essays into the human state, tales of love or dreams dropped onto the spike. How much autobiography is here is debatable, but I’d guess not too much. It doesn’t matter either way. The Man Seezer, for his part, is cleverly self-effacing, tracing hooks deep into the songs yet standing back for Friday to puzzle out his way. Find his feet. ‘Man of Misfortune’ is a superb account of his wrestling attempts to keep some kind of personal faith. […] Camp comes into it, somewhere. Yet so does understatement. And both combine, somehow, with an odd, addled purity. Which comes down maybe, to the luck of the Irish. A promising debut. So more, please.
Allmusic – Ned Raggett
Making his solo debut with a nod to an earlier Irish aesthete, Friday’s album isn’t merely titled after a legendary line from Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, but kicks off with the title track, where all lyrics in fact come from said poem. Each Man Kills shows a slightly calmer Friday at play, making the same transition to Scott Walker-inspired dark, spiked cabaret that kindred spirits Nick Cave and Marc Almond also did in their own solo careers to one extent or another. Friday’s own take on that spirit actually fits exactly between Cave and Almond’s work — the slow pace and country twang of “Tell-Tale Heart” could come right from Your Funeral My Trial. The fact that Friday covers two songs here that Cave and Almond would each separately do later (Bob Dylan’s “Death Is Not the End” and Jacques Brel’s “Next”) further shows the similar inspirations shared. In keeping with the overall transformation, Friday eschews the over the top wails and shrieks of his younger days — his register is still high, but the delivery is much more controlled, showing a greater range while losing none of his desperate passion. Seezer contributes fine lead keyboard work throughout, but Friday’s other key partner is producer Hal Willner, who had clearly demonstrated his own credentials for this kind of music with his Kurt Weill tribute album a few years previously. With a range of talented New York types to work with, including Bill Frisell and Fernando Saunders, Willner gets sympathetic performances from all to back Friday and Seezer’s explorations into wrecked romance, tortured souls and 2 a.m. moods. It isn’t mere recreation of 1930’s Berlin, but a palette of styles, from the dank, slow crawl of “Dazzle and Delight” to the soaring “You Take Away the Sun” and the kicking glam rock-inspired “Man of Misfortune.”