My Record Collection 14

Monday 16th April

B – BabyBird  A supposedly indie band, form the mid-nineties, which was the vehicle for Stephen Jones who released his records under the name Babybird.  He formed a band to tour with.  I have only two of his records Ugly Beautiful 1997.  This has his biggest single on it ‘You’re Gorgeous’ which really brought him to mainstream attention.  I really like the record, it has very controversial words (Jesus is my Girlfriend) and of course ‘You’re Gorgeous’ is really quite explicit.  But the melodies and the sound are great too.  Best songs – the single obviously, and ‘Too Handsome to be Homeless’.  Babybird released quite a lot of records, many of them demos really.  I have only got one other ‘Bugged’, which was the last before they were dropped by their record company  Not bad, but not so good either.  I still look out for Babybird records in second hand shops….you never know.

B – Badly Drawn Boy – I don’t know much about him; just two albums.  The first, his debut, ‘The Hour of the Bewilderbeast’ late nineties – I quite liked this when it first came out; it seemed different and interesting – but he soon seemed to run out of steam or ideas.  I have just re-listened and it seems amateurish and boring.  The film ‘About A Boy’ with Hugh Grant starring and quite faithful to the book by Nick Hornsby had a soundtrack by this artist, but it is as unremarkable as his debut I am afraid.  If I re-watched the film I am sure the soundtrack would pass me by.

B – Joan Baez  Well, what can you say about Joan that hasn’t been said?  I first heard, and heard of her, in the lower sixth form.  Or maybe it was even earlier, as I was a sort of fag to a couple of older boys, running errands for them, and was let into the Sixth form block sometimes. They had a record player and folk music was all the rage.  It was here I first heard Dylan and Buffy and of course Joan.  Her voice is crystal clear and bright as a mountain stream.  I have never been that impressed by her Sixties folk stuff really.  I did buy a fantastic LP in 1973 Where are you now my son? Which was partly recorded in North Vietnam at the height of that war.  It has never been released on CD to my knowledge, but I have it on cassette.  Thank goodness for you-tube, where some of it is available.  Just re-listened, and it is wonderful.  Side two is a sound collage of her visit and a bombing raid in North Vietnam and her reciting a poem and singing….quite wonderful.  Side two is a collection of songs where Joan is moving away from her folk roots and into a more mainstream gentle rock style.  Folk rock had evolved with bands like The Byrds (see B) and Crosby Stills Nash and Young (see C), but maybe it was always there just beneath the surface.

I also have her first two folk albums from the early 60’s.  The voice is beautiful, but most of the songs seem boring now.  They are very traditional folk renditions.  A nice historical memento I suppose.

But Joan’s most famous record is Diamonds and Rust.  She sings songs by Dylan (and even impersonates him a bit) and Jackson brown and John Prine and even one by Stevie Wonder, together with a few of her own compositions.  The title song is about her and Dylan too.  I also have Gulf Winds from the following year. I like this much more actually, each song just rolls along.  She wrote all the songs herself and they seem of a piece; not exactly a concept album, but the songs hang together well.  There is the almost obligatory song to Dylan ‘Oh Brother’ replying to ‘Oh Sister’ on Desire.  Ah well, they went through a lot together.  But it never seemed that final.  In late ’76 Dylan invited her onto his Rolling Thunder tour, which she accepted,

I have a live concert which is quite good too.  Plus she appears on two Dylan Bootlegs; one, a concert in 1964 where she sings a few songs solo, and the Rolling Thunder Bootleg where she duets with her old lover…

B – The Band.  This was the group who famously backed Dylan on his 1966 tour when he did half his show Accoustic, and half Electric, and despite the famous Albert Hall concert I preferred the studio versions of his Bobness.  Anyway, on the back of that, but maybe anyway, they became quite famous in the late Sixties/early Seventies.  I bought their Greatest Hits.  It is okay, and sometimes re-listening I sort of feel I should have bought some of their albums…but there is only so much you can buy…

And sometimes Greatest Hits is enough.  Except, since watching it on telly and then buying the album I do love their farewell concert The Last Waltz – as much for the great guest appearances, as for the band’s contributions.  I don’t listen that often, but it’s okay….far too long a record too, one song from each artist would have been fine.

B – Tony Banks – well, he was the keyboard player in Genesis (see G) but has written a few film soundtracks, and a couple of solo albums   I only have the first – A Curious Feeling, which is great I must admit.  Almost, but not quite, a Genesis record.  As is often the case with first solo albums, all his best songs are on it, many that must have been meant for Genesis albums but with Peter and Mike and Phil in there, to say nothing of Steve Hackett, maybe Tony’s understated brilliance was often overlooked.  Still a very nice album.