Paul Heaton – the genius behind The Beautiful South (see B), Paul broke up the band and released a solo album in 2001 under the name Biscuit Boy; Fat Chance was surely once intended as a group album. Without the band the songs are a bit thin, but quite good anyway. Actually, as so often, on re-listening I really quite like it. No really outstanding songs but pleasant enough anyway; maybe ‘Man’s World’ and ‘Poems’ stand out. Soon after Paul resurrected Beautiful South for a few more albums.
Helicopter Girl – is the recording name of black singer Jackie Joyce, a 21st century eclectic singer who emerged in the dance music scene with her very original sound. First album How to Steal the World (2000) was maybe her best, certainly my favourite. Some great moody arrangements and that silky almost sinister voice; best songs – ‘Glove Compartment’, ‘Escape Cloud’ and the weirdly wonderful ‘Putin Circle Stockings’. A quite unique sounding record. Four years later and Voodoo Chic arrived. The record is a touch more mainstream, a bit more soul or r’n’b, a bit less electronica – consequently it doesn’t quite touch the same spot her previous album did. Still, a nice record – but one I would probably not have bought without its predecessor. Best songs – ‘Rivermouth’, ‘Her Lucille’ and ‘Umbrellas in the Rain’. Of course, as so often happens in these reviewing days, I look at the music differently and see hidden gems I was oblivious to – or maybe just forgot years ago when I was seriously listening to these records. How strange the mind is – you listen to an album, oh so many times, sometimes loving and sometimes dismissing, often not really listening at all; then on re-listening with the distance that time brings you hear it quite differently. I will never tire of music – it is my main joy and occupation, if I have one at all. Final album from Helicopter Girl is Metropolitan (2008). She seems to have been without a contract since then – a few tracks self-released. It is getting so hard for new artists these days, what with wretched streaming and Spotify, where they earn so little and no-one except me and a few die-hards still buying CDs. But back to this (so far) final album – a bit more rock sounding to my ears. Quite a decent album actually – fave songs ‘The Things You Do’, ‘Doesn’t Get Much better Than This’ and ‘Ghosts in the Machine’. Not a bad record. She self-released her fourth album and I seem to only be able to listen to it on Spotify or Amazon Music. – Wanda Meant (2015). If I like it I will try to but it. (just downloaded it on Amazon – I only download if CDs are unavailable).
Jimi Hendrix – Well; one of the immortals really, only of course he was only too mortal in the very soon end. His guitar playing was legendary and amazed us all in the Sixties. My albums start with Are you Experienced. It was an instant success, as were his first three singles. It seemed at the time that Jimi had dropped into the London scene unheard of and fully formed, with his note-bending blues, fuzzy guitar solos and that gravelly deep voice. Of course, the year was propitious – 1967 – when all things psychedelic were instantly loved. And Jimi not only jumped on the bandwagon – he was the bandwagon and inspiration for thousands of guitarist imitators down the years. It could be argued that the whole heavy metal scene was created by Jimi. The LP is superb, and one of the best ever debut albums, every track is brilliant and considering that this was only a three piece band, the sound is enormous. Best songs – hard to pick but I do love ‘Foxy Lady’, ‘May This Be Love’ and ‘Fire’. The whole record lasts barely 38 minutes – but what a dynamic 38 minutes its is. One’s first response is to immediately turn it over and play it again (that was in the good old days of 12 inch vinyl records). Even now over fifty years later it still hits the brain like a bullet. Later that same year the Jimi Hendrix Experience released their second album Axis Bold As Love; not quite as big a hit as the debut, and not such memorable songs. Maybe it was rushed out as in those days Record Companies demanded constant new material to sell to eager fans. Still, a pretty good record; best songs ‘Little Wing’, ‘If 6 was 9’ and ‘Castles made Of Sand’. His final album while alive was Electric Ladyland (1968). This was a double album, self-produced and probably overlong, but he was bursting with musical ideas and ‘hot to trot’. Most critics thought this his best album and it was his best seller. But I found it far too long and rambling, some great guitar – but how much do you really need. Best songs ‘Voodoo Chile’, ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ and the Dylan re-invention ‘All Along The Watchtower’. There have been numerous posthumous albums released since Hendrix overdose death in 1970 – but I have not bought them. I do have ‘Smash Hits’ – which with ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ is really all you need.
Don Henley – The ‘voice’ of the Eagles (see E); that almost desperate voice that sung on most of their records – instantly recognisable and one of the greats. Except, that as the Eagles disintegrated at the end of the highly successful Seventies Don tried for a solo career, and like so many, it sort of fizzled and popped but barely made him a Superstar. He made several albums in the Eighties and Nineties – I only have his Greatest Hits (2009), again a charity shop pick as I remember. And there is nothing wrong with his songs, almost good enough to have been on Eagles albums, the same formula – only slightly more disco-ish. Best songs, the hits ‘The Boys of Summer’ and Not enough Love In The World’ of course, but also ‘New York Minute’ and the last three songs which show a maturity missing on the earlier songs – especially ‘For My Wedding’. I don’t think I will be buying any others of his; this is quite okay but enough.