My Record Collection 3

Sunday 25th February

A – ALT Well, this is a strange one.  A real one-off too.  Tim Finn of Split Enz (see S) and Crowded House (see C), a singer songwriter from Ulster, Andy White (see W), and Liam O’Mainloai from the Irish band ‘Hothouse Flowers’.  Apparently, they shared a flat in Dublin for a while and decided to record a record together.  The band’s name is the first letters of their first names.  The record Altitude came out in 1994.  I really like it.  It has a raw unfinished sound; definitely not overproduced.  The songs are very good though, especially ‘We’re All Men” and “The Refuge Tree”.  I wish they had done more, but one album and a bootleg almost impossible to find, of a live concert are all we have.  Tim soon rejoined (for one album) Crowded House, and Andy and Liam continued on their course of relative obscurity.  So, this record remains a gem, and a reminder of what might have been.

A – Amen Corner Well, they were huge for about 6 months in late ’68 and early ’69.  They hailed form Wales, but for a couple of years no-one was listening.  They were just another struggling band, playing mostly soul and blues.  They had a top twenty hit with ‘Gin House’ in 1967 and then a huge one in 1968 – ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’.  This was largely due to the great vocals from Andy Fairweather Low, who I think was the songwriter in the band (although he didn’t write the two big hits).  A number 1 single hit followed the next year with ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’  And then they flopped…

The band split that year.  Andy went on to a successful solo career (see F) and became a virtuoso guitarist (though he only sang in Amen Corner) and has played and toured with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and lately Roger Waters.

The only record I have of theirs is ‘The National Welsh Coast Live Explosion Company’.  It is a live record – and it is awful.  The band are all over the place and the sound quality is poor.  Too much screaming from their adolescent girl fanbase spoil most of the few songs the band were able to play.  I copied it onto CD from a second-hand album I bought, and the scratches add an ambience to it in a strange way.  It is like a blast from a non-digital past.  I keep it in the collection purely for nostalgic reasons…