Brilliant Debut Albums #68

Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain (1990)

Formed in 1999, this duo consists of singer Alison Goldfrapp and keyboard and multi-instrumentist Will Gregory.  They play electronica and this album in particular was incredibly distinctive – nothing sounds anything like it.  After this debut they veered into synth-pop and a combination of folk and electronica – but Felt Mountain was in a league of it’s own, very cinematic and with swooping chords – I loved it.  I saw her live about 12 years ago and she put on a very glamourous show with changes of costume and dancers – but I was there for the music.  I have tried over the years to keep in touch with the best of ‘new’ music, and this was brilliant; you gotta keep an open ear.  Best on this debut are ‘Lovely Head’, ‘Human’ and ‘Utopia’.

Felt Mountain (2022 Edition)

Brilliant Debut Albums #69

David Gray – Lost Songs 89-93 (released 2000)

After the phenomenal success of ‘White Ladder’ (1999) David’s record company released a compilation of his first three albums which had sold poorly and were more or less unavailable, or hard to find.   And this album ‘ain’t half bad; the songs are almost as strong in themselves as his later big hits, but the production is pretty basic and very piano led.  David has one of those voices that sound so familiar and comforting and yet are distinctive enough to keep you interested; a sort of yearning and deep sadness seems to pervade many of them – and yet they can also be quite uplifting.  Recognised now as a major talent and still selling his quite sporadic albums, he has established himself.  But these songs are from a time when he was struggling to break through – it was only when White Ladder was accompanied by a modern, almost dance music production that he became successful.  Best on this are ‘Flame Turns Blue’, ‘january rain’ and ‘A Clean Pair Of Eyes’.

Lost songs

Brilliant Debut Albums #67

Golden Earring – Moontan (1973)

Well another album that I, like almost everyone in the country, thought was their first – was actually their ninth.  A Dutch band who stormed the UK in 1973 touring this album and hit single Radar Love.  I saw them live at Hammersmith Odeon with Joy and was blown away.  What a band, great songs and a four-piece with a big sound.  They were a real rock band, but with memorable songs and a unique sound.  The album went to Number One in the charts, but they never reached those dizzy heights again – but did keep the same four players and released many albums over the years until 2021 when guitarist and main songwriter George Kooymans was diagnosed with a serious illness.  But back in the day they were a short-lived but much loved phenomenon; this album was constantly on my record deck.  Best songs – ‘Radar Love’, ‘Vanilla Queen’ and ‘Are You receiving Me’.  Playing this has brought back so many memories of those heady early Seventies.

Moontan Black Audiophile Expanded t 8 Pages

Brilliant Debut Albums #66

Phillip Goodhand-Tait – Rehearsal (1970)

Phillip was a minor singer-songwriter, most people haven’t heard of him, but he is a particular favourite of mine.  His voice is reminiscent of Rod but a bit quieter; who knows why some voices appeal and become instantly recognisable while others may be perfectly competent and yet we fail to make a connection with them.  Anyway, Phil is one artist I have followed throughout his career and sought out his albums, and still look out for them.  In the early 60’s he was lead singer in  a rock and roll band – The Stormsville Shakers – they never made it.  But he wrote a few songs for ‘The Love Affair’ which became minor hits.  He was picked up by DJM records and given the time and space to develop his own style (an unknown Elton was also on the label).  This first effort is pretty good and shows his variety of songwriting.  Best tracks are ‘Heaven help Belinda’, ‘Gone Are The Songs Of Yesteryear’ and ‘Jeannie’.  

Rehearsal

Brilliant Debut Albums #65

Neil Finn – Try Whistling This (1998)

Having been a member of Split Enz and Crowded House and recording two albums with brother Tim, Neil decided on a solo career for a while, interspersed with reconvening Crowded House and a few other collaborative ventures.  So, as Neil was widely recognised as a great singer and songwriter expectations were high when he released  this first solo effort almost 25 years after first joining brother Tim in Split Enz.  And there is no denying that this and the few solo albums Neil has recorded are pretty good, but there is this niggling feeling that he is still trying to prove something.  Personally I think he works better within a band, but I still like this album.  A modern production and some heavy dance beats on a couple of songs add very little to what one loves about Neil; his way with unique melodies and that yearning and expressive voice.  Favourite songs on this ‘She Will Have Her Way’, ‘Addicted’ and ‘Sinner’.

Try Whistling This

Brilliant Debut Albums #64

Genesis (mark 2) – Nursery Cryme (1971)

After 2 fairly uninspiring albums the guitarist Anthony Phillips left after recording their second album ‘Trespass’.   The remaining members; Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford recruited new guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins – this five becoming in the eyes of their most ardent fans – the classic Genesis line-up.  So, not exactly a debut, but as this was where the Genesis story really got going I am counting it as one. 

In some ways Genesis almost created ‘prog-rock’, extended pieces of music, or songs with varying time signatures and melodies, incorporating heavy rock, folk and classical.  (I loved it and still do)   So, the album that started it all – begins with The Musical Box – a macabre Victorian take on a nursery rhyme – actually I have never understood it – not that that matters in the slightest, like most Genesis fans I know the words by heart, with Gabriel singing both sinister softly and almost shouting at times…a great start.  The album also includes classic songs such as ‘The Fountain Of Salmacis’ (don’t ask – the boys were obsessed by Ancient Classics and Torah and threw in strange references that went way above our heads…we didn’t care – this was Genesis.  My favourite tracks are ‘Return of The Giant Hogweed’ – live Peter sung this actually dressed as a Hogweed, and ‘Seven Stones’. The band were incredible live, and at this time you could see them at University Student Unions for 2 and 6 (12,5 new pence in today’s money).  But then this was annus mirabilis 1971.  The band made three more albums before Peter left and 2 more before Hackett also departed.  But Genesis (mark 3) went on to huge global success as basically a three piece.  I still prefer the classic sound of Steve, Phil, Tony, Mike and Peter thoughB

Nursery Cryme by Genesis (2008-11-11)

Brilliant Debut Albums #63

Tim Finn – Escapade (1983)

While still a member of Split Enz, of which he was a founder member and often lead singer, Tim released this album.  Pretty soon after he left the band and for a while seemed to be seduced by America.   Later he joined younger brother Neil in Crowded House for the album Woodface, only to leave after a few live concerts, occasionally joining him for two albums under the Finn Brothers name.  Tim had been the main songwriter for Split Enz and definitely the leader of the group, though he started to be sidelined by the brilliance of Neil’s compositions and singing.  So, this debut was a chance to reclaim the songwriting brilliance he once commanded.  And it didn’t disappoint – in fact it feels like the ‘lost Split-Enz album’ – full of songs that would have sat happily on the band’s earlier records.  Best are ‘Fraction Too Much Friction’, ‘Staring At The Embers’ and ‘Growing Pains’.

Escapade by TIM FINN (2000-01-25)

Brilliant Debut Albums #62

Bob Geldof – Deep In The Heart Of  Nowhere (1986)

Oh No – do I hear you shout….because Bob, once almost a saint got quite a lot of abuse with this album’s release.   Having a handful of hits with The Boomtown Rats and the band basically being almost moribund, Bob and Mide Ure of Ultravox came up with the idea of first a single and then a concert in aid of the starving people of (mostly) Ethiopia.  Live Aid developed into something colossal, driven partly by the ruthlessness of Geldof.  Like millions of others I watched and taped the concert (onto cassettes – my favourite medium of the time).  And who can say he didn’t receive the plaudits and offers of recording contracts.  We will never know how much Bob’s actions were driven by true altruism, or a knowing nod to his own future.  The album was pretty big news when it was released, of course – partly out of admiration and partly curiosity and a few because they liked his earlier music.  I bought it because of quite good reviews and I liked the single ‘This Is The World Calling’.  And the album was pretty good.  Of course he had a host of superstars playing on it, and I think Dave Stewart producing.  Surprisingly it sold relatively poorly, but I liked it.  It sounded like grown-up power pop; strong melodies, lots of guitars and good lyrics.  Bob has only released a handful of albums since but continues his philanthropic interest in Africa, as well as pursuing business interests.  Best songs on this include ‘in The Pouring Rain’, ‘The Beat Of The Night’ and the title track. 

Deep in the Heart of Nowhere

Brilliant Debut Albums #61

Godley Crème – Consequences (1977)

One half of the highly successful quartet 10CC, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème left the band to venture out as a duo.  Partly too to advertise and try to popularise a guitar device they had invented for bending the strings rather than strumming them.  The Gizmo, as they called it, was however never a success as soon synths could make the same sound far easier.  However their first effort was ‘Consequences’ which grew from a simple bunch of songs and instrumentals into a full-blown concept album about a leaking tap which turns into a flood; a moral story about climate change if you will.  To complicate matters they employed Peter Cook to write a script, and let him loose to voice all the characters – about divorce negotiations happening in an attic flat of an alcoholic solicitor, come composer.  If you are confused – don’t worry, it didn’t matter really.  Except that Peter Cook went overboard and (despite Lol Crème being Jewish) took the almighty piss out of fictional Jewish lawyer Mr. Pepperman.  I think the critics were confused by the story, as well as the album being a triple…and it would never be released today.

Anyway, it was savaged on release and quite quickly removed; the music being released soon after as ‘Music from Consequences’.  It was never officially released on CD but the Japanese re-issued it as a double CD a decade or so later.  It has just been re-issued as an extended 6 disc box set at  reasonable price. I, of course have a copy, nut have just ordered this new version.  The characters voiced by Cook are incredible and I love it – the music is okay, but they made far better soon after, completing six more albums before ‘retiring’ to make video films.  Definitely worth a listen, if you can find it. 

Consequences

Brilliant Debut Albums #60

Garbage – Garbage (1995)

I don’t know too much about this band, except that Shirley Manson is the lead singer, and I believe she is Scottish.  With a sound that mixes classic rock with a punk attitude – and a bunch of excellent songs (always the VITAL ingredient) the band made up of mostly American musicians who had been around for a good few years released this excellent debut at a time when the music was all about Dance or HipHop.  But, somehow they have managed to carve out both an individual sound a loyal following.  I bought the album when it came out, curious after a handful of good reviews in the music press – I was not disappointed.  And you thought I only liked bands from the 60’s and 70’s.