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. 

Brilliant Debut Albums #59

Julia Fordham – Julia Fordham (1988)

One of my all-time favourite artists, Julia has an incredible vocal range and one of those voices you recognise straight away; she imbues each word with meaning – and has written a good few cracking tunes too.  This self-titled debut features ‘Happy Ever After’, ‘Where Does The Time Go’ and ‘Woman Of The Eighties’.  She hardly ever bothers the chart compilers but has a solid fan base who, like me, buy everything she releases.  Her songs are mostly slowish ballads that allow her voice to soar and caress the lyrics, a touch jazzy at times and occasionally up-tempo.  She even released an album of songs, mostly from this debut which had been overdubbed by various dance outfits – which was called Mixed, Shaken and Stirred.  Maybe she is a bit ‘Marmite’ – you either love her voice and songs or don’t.  This album was a mild success in the UK reaching Number 20 in the album charts.  Recently she has teamed up with Beverley Craven and Judie Tzuke to release 2 albums as Woman to Woman. 

Julia Fordham

Brilliant Debut Albums #58

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (car) (1977)

Peter, released his first four albums simply with his name as the title.  The first – his debut – has become known as ‘car’ because of the cover. Confusing, but hey!  And what a great album to kick off a surprising and at times confusing solo career. The first single ‘Solsbury Hill’ was a big hit, even if the lyrics are about escaping the pressures of his former band, ‘Genesis’.  But the whole album is quite sublime, each track sounding completely different from each other and quite brilliant too. I saw him live a few months after this, where he played a new unreleased song ‘Biko’.  He was absolutely incredible.  But strangely after these first four self-titled albums and the big hit album ‘So’, he has seemed to eschew stardom and has released new music only occasionally.   Best songs on this album (though they are all excellent really) are ‘Moribund The BurgerMeister’, ‘Down The Dolce Vita’ and the wonderful ‘Here Comes The Flood’. 

Peter Gabriel 1

Brilliant Debut Albums #57

Flo and Eddie – The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie (1971) Founding members of The Turtles who had chart success, especially in America in the Sixties, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers, but because of a dispute with their record company were forbidden to use their real names or ‘The Turtles’ – hence the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie.  When Frank was injured and the Mothers were not touring the duo released a bunch of songs they had written before and after leaving The Turtles who had now disbanded.  Such were the complexities of the music business back then.  The album came out of nowhere but the session players were all members of the Mothers, similarly ‘laid off’ due to Frank’s injury.  Well, what a sweet album – the songs are brilliant and the playing and vocals sublime.  As usual there were touches of ‘humour’ in the song ‘Nicki Nicki Hoi’ but mostly it is just a lovely record.  It sold moderately, which allowed them to complete three more albums; all superb.  But then they seem to have reverted to touring with ex and new members of The Turtles for a few decades, though they have ‘appeared’ as guest vocalists on numerous rock albums.  Best on this debut album are ‘There You Sit Lonely’, ‘Burn The House Today’ and ‘Feel Older Now’

The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie / Flo & Eddie

Brilliant Debut Albums #56

Eurythmics – In The Garden (1981)

Like a breath of fresh air on what was starting to become a stale ‘pop’ scene, the Eurythmics, Annie Lennox – vocals and Dave Stewart everything else, burst on the scene – with an incredible hit single ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made of This’ -and like most of us I hadn’t noticed their debut – which had no ‘Hits’ on it.  I went back and bought it, and was pleasantly surprised.  All the elements of their incredible success were already there; maybe the production wasn’t as sharp, and the songs not so instantly lovable, but the sound and the feel were.  During the Eighties they were almost a fixture in the charts, each new single instantly going top ten.  I bought a few of their albums but after a while they stopped being so innovative and started to sound quite samey. Still another incredible band – and despite no real hits and a flop when it first came out, In The Garden is still pretty good; especially ‘Take Me To Your Heart’, ‘Never Gonna Cry Again’ and ‘Revenge’.

in The Garden