My Record Collection 214

Stuart ‘Wooly’ Wolstenholme – Founder member of Barclay James Harves, one of my favourite ever bands.  He was one of three songwriters – but quite quickly he seemed to be relegated to just two songs per album.  A battle of egos and the usual musical differences (Stuart was the main driver of including classical music with the rock style of the band, whereas John and Les were veering more towards a disco-pop style) led to Wooly leaving the band after their album XII.  He fairly soon released by far his best record Maestoso.  A couple of the songs had been demoed by the band and rejected.  It is a gorgeous record and most of the songs would have slotted well into BJH albums.  Best songs are the title track, ‘Sail Away’ and ‘American Excess’. Anyway, he managed a short tour with a few friends before disappearing into the studio to produce his second solo effort.  Not such a great album, and I think it only came out on cassette, but I may be wrong.  Lately I bought the box set of all his solo recordings.  Black Box Expanded is the second CD – the original plus a few demos and live versions.   Funnily enough on re-listening I find I like it more now than at the time of the release.  But somehow the songs don’t hang together well.  Best are ‘Deceivers All’, ‘Has To be A Reason’  and ‘The Sunday Bells’.  After two poor selling albums in the early 90s he retired from making music and started farming.  Eventually the Barclays split up too – and his old friend from the band John Lees invited Stuart to sing with him on a tour and subsequent album.  Mostly these were very early singles which Stuart and John had written.  The tour encouraged Stuart to dig out some of his old music, and write a few more – and a new album emerged – One Drop In A Dry World.  I have continued buying his music, more as a tribute to him and the band than out of their greatness.  These albums are really for enthusiasts and devoted fans (like me) only and should be approached with caution.  Stuart was a complex character – probably a manic depressive – certainly prone to depression and a strange sense of humour.  Best songs are the title track, and ‘It’s You’.  Fiddling Meanly – came out next – a one-off live concert at The Mean Fiddler.  Nothing new, but some nice old BJH numbers to enjoy. Next up is Grim (Sense of humour required).  Well, a bit of a curates egg really, some nice tracks and some – you wonder just why?  No quality control and far too much on one CD.  Maybe he just felt he had to get all this music out of his system.  Anyway – best tracks are ‘Hebden Bridge’ and ‘Lark + Carp’.  To be honest I was only buying his music to support him at this point.  Caterwauling was his last album proper – and again it is far too long and seems unfocused; best songs are – the long track ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ – though almost a mini album itself and ‘Matilda Yarrow’.  Poor Wooly, A very clever guy, maybe too clever and a victim of massive depressions – he committed suicide in 2010.  A great loss and a pity as he was a superb songwriter and a very accomplished musician whose contributions, especially early on made Barclay James Harvest so popular.  There is also an album of unreleased stuff he was aworking on called the lost works which is pretty rough actually. 

That Hideous Man: Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme: An Appreciation

My Record Collection 213

Brian Wilson – Yes, The Brian Wilson – founding member and main songwriter and eventually producer of The Beach Boys (see B).  What a guy, and what a life.  In 1964 he had a nervous breakdown and stopped performing live with the band, though he continued writing and producing, including the wonderful ‘Good Vibrations’ in 1966.  However increasing drug use took its toll and by ’68 he was in a mental institution.  Recovering slightly, he continued writing and producing – but less and less.  He became a recluse for a few years but has gradually rehabilitated himself and started making solo albums again in the 90s.  My few albums of his start with Imagination (1998).   Well, it is very Beach Boy sounding, but the songs are really not so great – which is to be expected I suppose.  The production is very middle of the road and a bit saccharine – but Brian’s voice is still pretty good; lots of stacked vocals – but mostly lacking that excitement of the Sixties.  Best songs – ‘Your Imagination’, ‘She says She Needs Me’ and ‘Sunshine’.  I also have That Lucky Old Sun (2008).  Quite a pleasant record – apparently, a concept album, though it sounded like a bunch of songs, mostly about California.  Brian’s voice is noticeably lower bur still good.  Best songs – the title song, ‘Mexican Girl’ and ‘Southern California’.   I also have s freebie given away with one of the Sundays, misleadingly titled Good Vibrations – it is basically live versions by Brian of old Beachboy numbers.  A strange listen; the songs of course are brilliant – and even these slightly weak interpretations cheer you up and you find yourself humming along to them – but then again, realising what a great little group they used to be. 

Dennis Wilson – After ‘Holland’, in which the Beachboys, mostly minus Brian, took a remarkable new direction, Dennis released a solo album called Pacific Ocean Blue.  I missed it at the time, and long after Dennis had died it was released along with some demo’s as a double album earlier this century.  The music press raved about it, and I bought it.  Only to be largely disappointed.  Really nothing to say about this record – it left me cold when I bought it and again on re-listening.  A pity, as with better production it could have been at least a nice sequel to his life.  I think he was trying too hard to move out of the shadows of the band without really having the voice or songs to change enough.  Oh well.

Cassandra Wilson – I don’t really know much about this cool American jazzy blues singer.  Only the one record New Moon Daughter (1995), and quite listenable it is – though this is not my usual genre at all.   Quite pleasant really, though too slow in many places.  Best tracks – ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ and ‘Harvest moon’ – but that’s because I know the original versions.

Mari Wilson – I first heard her on a Radio 1 live concert, singing with the Fabulous Poodles.  I fell in love with her voice.  She sung very shiny pop songs with great choruses.  Two albums; Rhythm Romance (1991).  She sings great cover versions of ‘Cry Me A River’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’, but I really love ‘Someone To Watch Over me’ and ‘Lover Man’.  A really good record.  Only bettered by her greatest hits Platinum Collection.  Big Hits include ‘Just What I Always Wanted’ and ‘Wonderful To Be With You’, but I also really like ‘Dr. Love’ – and really all the other tracks too.  Great singer.

Amy Winehouse – Never a huge fan, though this tragic lady had a very good voice, quite similar to a lot of early soul singers.  Just the one album Back To Black.  Best songs – ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and ‘Me and Mr. Jones.’  But the rest just passed me by.

Steve Winwood – Loved him in Spencer Davis and Traffic and I did have Arc of A Diver on Vinyl and now only on Cassette.  I bought a later solo effort ‘Junction 7’ from a charity shop and wished I hadn’t wasted the pound.  Very boring…I also have Revolutions – a greatest hits, which is fab.   Love most of it (except Blind Faith) even the solo stuff is pretty good.  Best are the early Spence David and Traffic songs and ‘Valerie’.


My Record Collection 212

My Record Collection 212

Wilco – An American band, fairly Alt/Country I would say.  Having read great reviews of them I bought Being There (1966) – a double album which I remember being very impressed by.  Not so much now on listening almost 30 years later – though they do have a distinctive style and Jeff Tweedy’s voice is pretty distinct in its laid-back weariness.   I seem to remember that I was quite impressed by this record a quarter of a century ago, though now it impresses me less – so it goes.  Best songs are ‘Misunderstood’, ‘Someday Soon’ and ‘someone Else’s Song’.  Though as a double it is, as usual, far too long.  I bought Summerteeth in 1999 – and again I remember liking the record.   Though now, as I re-listen, the songs just drift by unremarkable and largely unnoticed.  Still, a couple are listenable – The title track and ‘Via Chicago’.  2001 saw Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – and the instrumentation was varied and experimental, Jeff’s voice – even wearier and desperate – and I like it more now.  A few songs stick in the brain now – ‘Kamera’, ‘I’m The man Who Loves You’ and ‘Reservations’ are pretty good.  I don’t know why, but I stopped buying Wilco albums after this – too many other distractions I suppose. 

Lucinda Williams – Another American Country singer; Lucinda is wonderful, her voice raspy and full of a raw emotion I find quite addictive.  And although she is almost as old as me, she never really got going until the late 80’s and has  had a sporadic recording career.  She came to my notice with probably my favourite album of hers Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (1998).  Already 45 this was her third album and her real breakthrough record.  It is simply wonderful.  Almost every track has a magical melody and seems just right; Lucinda often repeats over and over the choral refrain, which is a very good way of involving the listener.  Best songs are the title track, ‘Concrete and Barbed Wire’ and the sumptuous ‘Lake Charles’.  Next up is 2003’s World Without Tears.  Another excellent album, maybe the songs are not quite as good – but pretty darned good anyway.  My favourites are – ‘Those three Days’, ‘Atonement’ (where she gets really angry), ‘Your Sweet Side’ and the title track.  I have only bought her albums sporadically, not sure why as she is really very good.  My last by her was West, released in 2007.  This album ventures into talking blues and her musical palette drifts quite far from her original American style. Best songs are ‘Are You Alright’, ‘Come On’ – another shoutout at a former lover and ‘Unsuffer Me’.  I haven’t bought any more of this great singer.  I simply don’t have the time or capacity to keep on buying every singer I like.  However, I do seem to have a compulsion to own everything by certain other singers, which probably just reinforces my prejudices.  So it goes.

Robbie Williams – never a great fan, especially of Take That and boybands in general – but you have to admit that Robbie was a phenomenon.   I saw him once along with a lot of others at Wembley and he had the audience in the palm of his hands.  Just the one album – I’ve Been Expecting You.   Pretty good, and contains ‘Strong’, ‘Millenium’ and ‘You’re the One’ – so you can’t really go wrong with songs like that.

My Record Collection 211

The Who – later stuff

Then an almost three-year gap, where Townshend was grappling with a new concept, The Lifehouse (see T).  Eventually this was half abandoned and some of the songs rescued for the next album Who’s Next (1971).  Well, I was there at The Valley, Charlton’s football ground when they both shocked and amazed us by playing the then unheard album in its entirety.  But what an album, and what a departure for the band – no longer pop but real rock music of the very best quality.  The opening track ‘Baba O’Riley’ is an absolute tour de force and unlike anything ever before or since.  Hard to analyse why this song captures the imagination – it should have been called ‘Teenage Wasteland’ and then it might have made more sense – however.  Every song following is a classic and sung with both sensitivity and great emotion.  This was their re-birth, their coming of age – and in my mind their best album.  Other great tracks are ‘The Song Is Over’, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and of course the finale ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’  It is and has always been my favourite of theirs.   Quadrophenia followed in 1973.   Another concept piece, which strangely I have never liked as much.  There followed a film and many live recordings and even tours right into this century.  I do like a handful of tracks – ‘The Real Me’, 5.15’ and ‘Love Reign Over Me’, but never my favourite record – though fans love it.  Next came a much more normal Who album – 1975’s The Who By Numbers.   Maybe their worst album cover, and the absence of any real rock anthems meant this sold relatively poorly.  But I have always liked it – it has a slightly throwaway quality to it; and seems less strained and easier to listen to than it’s predecessor.  Best tracks are ‘Slip Kid’, ‘Squeeze Box’ and ‘Blue Red and Grey’.  Three years till their next – the superb Who Are You.  One of the most infectious songs, featured in numerous films and tv series, it still has the power to amaze.   But this is a really strong album; with songs like ‘Sister Disco’ and ‘Guitar and Pen’ proving they still had it.  Sadly, a weird co-incidence; on the cover Keith Moon is sitting astride a chair with the words NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY on it.  He was taken away shortly after, another Rock and Roll excess victim.   Kenny Jones, ex Faces drummer replaced Keith in the band, and although he was a competent drummer, he lacked the madness and touch of Keith.  Face Dances came out in 1981; not a bad album, but not a great one either.   Maybe the curse of the 80’s hit them, or they were just tired or bored or just not good enough at this point.  I liked a few songs – ‘You Better You Bet’, ‘Don’t Let Go Of The Coat’ and ‘Another Tricky Day’ – but the rest of the songs leave me cold.  Which was my reaction to pretty well the whole of their next, 1982’s It’s Hard.   A bit of a downer, as the songs never seemed to really stick in the brain.   And it seemed that that was that.  The band continued with touring and long breaks but no new material emerged.  Daltrey went off and did other stuff, John Entwistle died too early and Townshend was in the news because he went on-line to view some child porn, which he says was research, as he was abused himself.  I saw them a couple of times in the nineties and early this Century.  Great stuff, but heavily reliant on 60’s and 70’s songs.  Then, after 24 years came a new album Endless Wire (2006).  Well, what to make of it?  Firstly, it doesn’t feel at all like a Who album, except for a couple of rockier tracks.  The album is really a Pete Townshend album, sung by Roger Daltrey.  A complicated record; songs attacking the Catholic church, and some which I have no idea what the son g is about at all.  Overlong really but there are a few very good songs; ‘We Got a Hit’, ‘Endless Wire’ and ‘Mirror Door’.   I have bought but not listened to yet, their latest simply titled Who.   I also have two compilations Then and Now and Ultimate Collection; both full of great songs.  What a band; one of the leaders of the revolution in music in the Sixties.

Roger Daltrey, chanteur du groupe The Who et le guitariste Pete Townshend en concert au Pavillon de Paris le 17 mai 1979

My Record Collection 210

The Who – early stuff

As a teenager I loved the singles of the Who from the mid-sixties onwards.  They were ‘Poppy’, but with a dangerous and rebellious edge – you always thought they might be on the point of exploding.  The stuttering f f f in My Generation, a secret clue.  My first album proper of theirs was a compilation on Track records, the fabulously titled Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy (1972).  This had everything – almost all the singles ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Anyway, Anywhere, Anyhow’, Happy Jack’ and Pictures of Lily’ which I always knew was about wanking.  As well as a few other not so well-known songs – I played the original vinyl to death.   I bought a couple of earlier albums later.  A Quick One came out in late ’66 – but I bought it much later.  Rather pop than rock, and with some pretty bizarre songs – already Townshend was writing about the weirdest stuff – but this also included a few songs by Daltrey, Entwistle and even Keith Moon ‘Cobwebs and Strange’ and there are about 10 bonus tracks on this CD, not sure if they were ‘b’ sides or just stuff they recorded around this time.  Best tracks are ‘So Sad About Us’, ’Boris the Spider’ and ‘Disguises’.  An interesting  glimpse back from the later glory years.  As is The Who Sell Out (1967). A great cover and a great concept; while other bands were into psychedelica, The Who made an album of songs with commercials interspersed.  Best are ‘Armenia City in The Sky’, ‘Our Love Was’ and ‘I Can See For Miles and Miles’ – there is also a mini opera ‘Rael’ which I don’t really like, and several bonus tracks again of varying quality.   Then, of course, came the first BIG ONE – Tommy (1969).  I bought this soon after seeing the film version by Ken Russell but knew quite a few songs from the radio earlier.  What an album, and what an achievement – it puts Sargeant Pepper a bit in the shade really.  This is pure rock music, but actually a very varied album.  Daltrey’s vocals are superb, and he commands your attention.  The whole thing is a product of Townshend’s fertile imagination, and unbelievable as the story is, it all makes some sort of sense.  Tommy has had a life of it’s own – a film, orchestral arrangements, and many many live performnces by the band and various guest singers.  But the original still stands supreme.   Hard to pick a favourite from such a complex and unified piece but maybe ‘1921’, ‘Sally Simpson’ and of course – ‘Pinball Wizard’.  I also have from mostly about this time The BBC Sessions – the band were regular guets at the Beeb in the Sixtiies and early Seventies.  Most of the versions are pretty much as they appear on record – but a few rarities – ‘Just You And Me Darling’, ‘Man With The Money’ and a cracking version of ‘Dancing in The Street’.

Group portrait of English rock band The Who, standing in front of flags wearing mod clothing, London, circa 1966. Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger...

My Record Collection 209

Andy White – another in the long list of ‘Artists Nobody Has Ever Heard Of’ – but why, when the boy is so original and brilliant – ah, maybe that’s the reason.  A Belfast kid, he emerged in the mid-Eighties, though most of the albums I have are from this Century.  He sings very autobiographical songs and sometimes simply recites the words in a Northern Irish accent, which I find most appealing.  My first of his is from 1990 and called Himself.  Some great songs and quite good music too – Andy has a unique voice and style that I find quite infectious and unaffected.  Best songs are ‘In A Groovy Kind Of Way’, ‘The Guildford Four’ and ‘Pale Moonlight’ – but almost all the songs are great.   My next is Out There 1992.  Not quite so good, but not at all bad really.  Fave tracks are ‘Palace Full of Noise’, ‘James Joyce Grave’ and of course ‘Speechless.  Third up is Destination Beautiful (1994) – another very good album, which includes the great songs – ‘Street Scenes From My Heart’, ‘John’ ( a heartfelt pean to Lennon),’Many’s The Time’ and ‘The Government Of Love’.  A very pleasant record.  Speechless itself followed in 2000, and included new recordings of a couple of songs, especially the title track.  Quite a long album, about 20 tracks, which makes it a tad tedious to listen right through.  However, some pretty cool songs – ‘Religious Persuasion’, ‘Between A Man And A Woman’ and ‘Jacqui’ stand out.  Next, I have his self-titled album Andy White (2000) – which seems strange given this was about his tenth solo album, but it is quite good anyway.  Best are ‘Let Me be Free’, ‘Jesus In A Cadillac’ and ‘Coz I’m Free’.  A true rare talent, who doesn’t seem at all affected by Fame or Fortune – just happy to continue writing and singing songs.

White Mansions (1978) – this was a concept album by Englishman Paul Kennerley.  It is a story of the tragedy of the American Civil War, from the perspective of the defeated South.  Wow, what an album – with a stellar cast of singers acting out the story in song.  Every song is brilliant, almost impossible to name a favourite, but ‘Southern Boys’ rocks along, ‘Union Mare’ and ‘Confederate Grey’ is a poignant tale, and ‘The Southland’s Bleeding’ is fantastic. Written in a new Americana style, with a country twang, the whole album has to be listened to as a piece of work that is simply brilliant.  Paul almost repeated the achievement two years later with The Legend Of Jesse James, which follows on historically from the defeat of the South.  This record features Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris among others and is almost as good; though the story is more callous, you still feel sorry for Jesse.  Best songs are ‘Heaven Aint Ready For You Yet’, ‘The Death Of Me’ and ‘One more Shot’.  Johnny Cash’s voice dominates but this is again an ensemble piece and was released a double album with White Mansions in 1999.  A unique little slice of American History on one CD.  Great stuff.

White Mansions

My Record Collection 208

Jeff Wayne – famous for one superb double album War Of The Worlds (1978). To my knowledge he hasn’t released any other albums…not that he needs to, having sold 15 million copies.  And with good reason, it is simply brilliant.  Great music throughout, with recurring leitmotifs and several guest singers, and the late great Richard Burton as narrator.  My favourite tracks are Julia Covington singing ‘No No Nathaniel) and David Essex singing ‘Brave New World’ and of course Justin Haywood’s ‘Foreever Autumn’.  A triumph and a well deserved success, even toruing the album with special effects live.

Gillian Welch – An American singer-songwriter specialising in ‘Bluegrass’ and ‘traditional American’ folk styles.  A very sparse sound, which gives plenty of room for her voice and words.  Only one album, 2001’s Time (The Revelator).   Well. It is almost one long song, slight variations in melody but much the same all the way through. A very distinctive voice and great picked guitar – but I am still not sure that I like her.  Best songs are ‘I want to sing that Rock and Roll’ and ‘Elvis Presley Blues’. 

Paul Weller – I was never that big a fan, either of Jam or Paul solo – though I quite liked some of the Jam singles.  But, reading the music press as I do, I bought Wild Wood (1993) – and was not hat overimpressed. Not a bad album, but hardly any of the songs really caught my ear.  Best are ‘Country’ and ‘Holy Man’ – but even these are not that sparkling.  I took one other dip into his stuff with 2008’s 22 Dreams – billed as some sort of psychedelic renaissance, but again, though it was a varied album with different moods and styles, I am not sure of the record; too long and too many unfocussed tracks.  Best songs are the very good ‘Sea Spray’, ‘Invisible’ and Where ‘ere ye go’.   I also have a compilation of Paul solo

and songs from his time with The Jam and The Style Council’ called Hit Parade, and quite good it is too.  Of course, I prefer the earlier stuff but not a bad listen.

WhiskyTown – This was Ryan Adam’s band before he went solo (see A).  This was a pretty country Americana outfit, and maybe he should have stayed with this band, as they were excellent.   Just two albums – Faithless Street (1995) is up first, and was their debut.  Ryan’s weary country voice dominates and is great: I especially love ’16 days’, ‘Hard Luck Story’ and ‘Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight’.  1997 saw Strangers Almanac – another brilliant album, not a poor track on this collection.  Hrd to choose favourites – but ‘Everything I Do’, ‘Losering’ and ‘Not Home Anymore’ stand out.   They did release an album of offcuts in 2001 but I haven’t got it.

The story behind Jeff Wayne's The War Of The Worlds | Louder

My Record Collection 207

Roger Waters – The main writer, after Syd’s demise, in Pink Floyd (see P) Roger was writing more and more deranged and vituperative songs.  After The Wall, which just about hung to its sanity, he came up with the dire The Final Cut – which was the final cut the quartet made.  His first solo album The Pros and Cons Of Hitchhiking (1984) was probably intended as a Floyd album, but the band had had enough of him, or vice versa and it ended up being a Roger Waters solo record.   I have never understood this record, and it is a it hysterical in places…I wonder what Pink Floyd would have ever made of it.  One or two half decent songs; the title track and ‘DunRoamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin’ and ‘In Every Stranger’s Eyes’.  But really a rather demented record.  Much better, and indeed – by far his best was 1987’s Radio Kaos.  Another concept album, purporting to be a radio station in L. A. with a Welsh disabled kid on a phone in.  However the story doesn’t really concern me – but the songs are much better, and stand on their own.  ‘Radio Waves’ opens the album and is a great snappy rock tune.  Other favourites are ‘Who Needs Information’ and ‘The Tide Is Turning’.  Best is ‘Sunset Strip’ with its chorus about Wales …. a blood red dragon on a field of green.  Of course, being Roger, the songs are pretty political, but they are actually really good and more commercial songs.   Roger has always traded on his and Pink’s past.  In 1990 he released The Wall Live In Berlin.  A slightly expanded version but featuring a host of guest singers including Joni and Van Morrison.  The Wall was now the Berlin wall of course.  A nice reminder of his finest moment.  Amused to Death came out in 1992.  A record I have never really liked, it seems overblown and boring and the songs ramble without focus.  Then a very long silence while Roger toured various old Floyd albums.  In 2017 he reeased only his fourth solo album Is This The Life That We Really Want. Well, surprisingly it is actually quite good, musically anyway – a few more modern beats rather than power chords and shouting.  Best are ‘Broken Bones’, the title track and ‘The Most Beautiful Girl’.  I also have a live album In The Flesh (2000) – at least half the songs are Pink Floyd, though done really well, and of those most from The Wall and Dark Side.  Not a bad listen.

Way Beyond Nashville This is another of those compilations, that promise much and deliver little.  Apart form a track by Steve Earle – nothing great.

My Record Collection 206

Jennifer Warnes – famous for being more than just a backing singer with Leonard Cohen in the Seventies, she has had a sporadic solo career.  She release 4 albums in the late Sixties and Early Seventies, which were compiled into a 1992 album Just Jennifer –  not much to say about this, pleasant songs and a lot of cover versions, her voice is pretty soft and subtle, and doesn’t really do justice to most of this material.   Although her rendition of ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ and ‘Just Like Tom Thumb Blues’ are quite good.   In 1979 ahe released my favourite album of hers Shot Though The Heart – with a great cover too.  Well, this album is such a favourite; I played it non-stop for weeks back in the day.  I especially love the title track ‘Shot Through The Heart’ (there goes the gunman) followed by ‘I Know A Heartache When I See One’, but the best was ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ (a Baccharach/David song) and a great version of Dylan’s ‘Sign On The Window’.  The whole album just seems to roll along.  Brilliant.  Almost as good, and again a real departure was this almost collaboration with Leonard Cohen, with whom she had sung in the studio and on tour.  It included two, at that time, unrelease Cohen songs, which I think Jennifer recorded at least as well as Cohen himself.  They also collaborated in the writing of ‘Song Of Bernadette’ – a highlight of this album Famous Blue Raincoat (1986).  My favourites are probably the title track, ‘Came So Far For Beauty’ and ‘Ballad of The Runaway Mare’….but who can fault the splendid duet ‘Joan Of Arc’, here Jennifer  is Joan and Leonard the fire.  Wow.   I mwntioned before that Jennifer is only a sporadic album  maker and it was only 1992 that saw her next effort – The Hunter.  Well, after those two incredible albums it must have been hard to come up with a third, and so it turned out.  Overall, a disappointing album I am afraid.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I was under awed.  Reading the extensive credits of both performers and producers it is no  wonder.  The album sounds over-produced and overworked and lacking in any identity.   Or maybe I am being a bit harsh; re-listening, the album is not so bad – just not as brilliant as I fel it might have been.  Maybe it is the song choices, best are ‘Rock Me Gently’ and ‘The Lights Of Luisiana’.  I also have a best of – which tanspires to be taken from just 2 albums; Jennifer seemed to be any quite a few different labels in her career. Still, not a bad selection – except of course, no ‘Up Here Where We Belong’.   A bit of a wasted talent in some ways – but still two brilliant albums is better than most.

The Waterboys – an Irish band, led by Mike Scott (see S).  Their biggest selling album was Fisherman’s Blues 1988 – Actually, the only one of theirs I own.  And it is pretty damn good.  With this album, they apparently re-discovered their Irish roots.  Musically, it is quite folky, with fiddles and acoustic instruments.  The songs are, of course, what makes the album so good.  The iconic ‘Whole of The Moon’ is great, as is ‘When Will We Be Married’ and ‘A Bang On The Ear’.  But somehow the record, too long, tires as it goes on. 

JENNIFER WARNES ~ Famous Blue Raincoat ~

My Record Collection 205

Scott Walker – famous in the Sixties as half of The Walker Brothers, who had a few hits with ballads.  Well, Scott is still writing and singing, but a million miles away from the Sixties.  In fact, very modern and almost unlistenable songs (where exactly is the melody?) – although the voice is still superb.  Only one album Tilt. Only one song I almost like ‘Farmer In The City’.

Joe Walsh – Famously joined the Eagles in late Seventies, and had one great hit solo before that ‘Life’s Been Good’.  He started off with a band, The James Gang in the early Seventies.  I have a best of James Gang and Joe Walsh – though, no big hit.  Not a bad record, but it doesn’t really grab me. 

WAR CHILD – 2 free Cds given away with The Independent.  Cd1 was more conventional songs by Coldplay, McCartney and a few others.  Best was ‘Vietnem’ by New Order.  Cd2 was more dance oriented and featured Massive Attack and Faithless as well as Magic Numbers and Starsailor.  Both highly enjoyable but hardly essentialClifford T.Ward – A truly gentle soul with the voice of an angel.  He was a teacher but played guitar and wrote songs and in the early Seventies tried to make it – which he did for a while.  With a faithful band of fans he released several albums and had a handful of hits before a progressive MS finally claimed him in 2001.  His debut Singer Songwriter came out in 1972.   A bit naïve and one feels he was a bit too tentative – still I particularly like ‘A Dream’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Circus Girl’.   1973 saw probably his best album, the glorious Home Thought From Abroad – the centre-piece of which is the title song, a pean to his old girlfriend, which quotes from a poem by Robert Browning; it is a very poignant song.  But the lead-off song is his biggest hit single – the sumptuous ‘Gaye’.  There is barely a poor song here; my other favourites being ‘The Open University’, ‘Time, The Magician’ and ‘Where Would That Leave Me’.   The songs are timeless with gorgeous melodies and mostly orchestral arrangements; in some ways they are quite middle of the road but are saved from being mawkish by Clifford’s hauntingly beautiful voice.  A triumph.   Nearly as good was his third Mantle Pieces, also 1973.  Some delightful songs – the excellent single ‘Scullery’, the poignant Sylvia Plath inspired ‘Waving Not Drowning’ and the humorous but sad ‘To An Air Hostess’ among others.   Escalator followed in 1975, and included ‘Jigsaw Girl’, ‘We Could be Talking’ and ‘A Sad Affair’.  I did buy his next 4 albums on vinyl, but they are all quite expensive now, if available at all, on CD.  A pity, as I really loved them.  I do have a very late release Bittersweet (1999) when poor Clifford was by then unable to walk or talk or record.  Some nice alternate versions of some of his songs and the lovely ‘Jayne From Andromeda Spiral’.  A nice collection but for real fans only.  Best was a compilation Gaye and other Stories (1990) – a real best of.  Faves are all the early songs – but also ‘A  Minor’.  A lovely gentle man, a real inspiration to us all