The Dear Janes – I bought this CD Sometimes I on the strength of a couple of CD singles bought back in the Nineties. It features two girls singing quite pleasantly really, but it is the content that intrigued me; quite a few of the songs are about sex and sexuality – with titles like ‘My Guilty Hand’ ‘Brides of the Cross’ and ‘Jesus take me down’ – repressed Catholics I presume. An oddity, but I quite like it really.
Del Amitri – another 80’s Scottish band; I first heard through their catchy singles. I have only bought sporadically their albums starting with 1992’s Change Everything, which was their third album. And a nice mix of songs it is too, I love lead singer Justin Currie’s voice. I believe he wrote most of the songs too. Best songs – ‘Just Like A Man’, ‘Be My Downfall’ and ‘The Last To know’. Although there is a similarity about most of the songs on the record, not always a bad thing I suppose. I seem to recall that I picked up the three studio albums of theirs in second-hand shops; I used to spend far too many lunchtimes browsing the racks in Soho record shops – Sister Ray and Reckless Records being my favourites. Next up is Twisted from 1995. Another excellent batch of songs – slightly rockier if anything. Part of the trouble for Del Amitri was that they were categorized early on as a ‘Pop’ group and struggled to establish their credentials as a serious rock band. Best songs – big hit ‘Roll With Me’, ‘It Might As Well Be You’ and best of all ‘Driving With The Brakes On’. My last original album was their last real record Can You Do Me Good. (2002), and it seems almost a last desperate throw of the dice. It is practically a solo album – and no surprise Justin Currie went solo after this, though apparently the group is still going in some form. A couple of good songs however – ‘I’m just A Drunk In A Band’ rocks along and ‘Cash and Prizes’ is pretty good. It seems that bands in the Nineties and after don’t seem to be able to sustain themselves for that long. Maybe it has always been that way except for a very few – the Stones limp on, as do the Who. The Floyd are no more, and U2 barely exist at all these days. Maybe money and age take their toll – though some artists like Neil Young and McCartney still seem to have an appetite. I also have an excellent greatest hits Hatful of Rain, and it’s sister CD of B sides Lousy with Love. And in a way these are all you need, all the hits and some great B sides are here; ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, ‘Spit in the Rain’, ‘Tell her This’ and of course the great Scottish world cup song ‘Don’t Come Home Too Soon’.
Sandy Denny – Ah, just one more rock casualty really. A singer-songwriter she was in the Folk vein and never quite broke through to the mainstream. Though back in the Sixties there was quite a bit of cross-over. She was lead singer in Fairport Convention and a lesser known band Fotheringay before going solo. She died of drink related problems in the late 70’s. For some reason I bought her debut The North Star Grassman and the Ravens (1971) (probably because the cover took my eye). It was quite different from my usual batch of West Coast inspired artists; very English, very low-key and sparse – in some ways she reminded me of Nick Drake (see D). Listening again now and with the passing of time I realise it was quite a mixture of an album – some songs like ‘Late November’ and the title track are very folky – but she ventured into blues on a cover of Dylan’s ‘Down in the Flood’. For whatever reason I didn’t buy any of her other three solo records – but a few years back I discovered a retrospective No More Sad Refrains which covers her entire career. This is a double album; and aptly named, it really is quite dirgy – and this from a Leonard Cohen fan – but I must confess I don’t really like this at all. This CD may well join a very small pile of rejects….oh dear. Now I know why I never liked ‘folk’ that much. Oh Well.