My Record Collection 132

Jethro Tull – Well, one of the classic prog-rock bands of the Seventies and beyond.  I suppose I must have heard them around the release of Aqualung, their second album, I think.  The band really revolves around lead singer and flautist extra-ordinaire Ian Anderson.  My first purchase of theirs was 1972’s Thick As A Brick and I have sort-of worked both backwards and forwards since then.  I have seen them 2 or 3 times and they always put on a great show.  But they started off as a blues band in the mid-sixties, releasing their debut album This Was in 1968, which I later bought.    This is a very bluesy record heavily influenced by joint songwriter and guitarist Mick Abrahams.  Now, Mick left soon after the recording of these songs and the direction of the band became far more folky and progressive under Ian.  So, this album is really not so representative of the band, but still quite a pleasant album in itself.  Best song is ‘My Sunday Feeling’.  The rest are okay but too bluesy for my liking.  Much better was their fourth and really their breakthrough album Aqualung (1971).  The band were now established in Ian Anderson’s trademark prog-rock style, with complex songs at times lyrical and almost classical with bursts of heavy guitar and drums.  Jethro Tull were one of the leading bands playing this new inventive music – almost anything went and Tull soon became one of the biggest bands on the University and Concert circuit.  Ian plays flute wildly and uniquely and has a raspy sort of voice which can be quite hypnotic – he used to stand centre stage on one leg like some hippy pixie and captivate audiences.  The title track of this album is superb, one of their best ever songs.  Quite a few tracks are acoustic like the gentle ‘Mother Goose’ as well as much heavier tracks like ‘Locomotive Breath’.  Altogether a triumph and it is still their best selling album.   However, not quite my favourite of theirs.  I had fallen in love with the following year’s Thick As A Brick, and nothing ever quite replaced it for me.   The whole preposterous idea that the album was written by a 12 year old genius; the 12 page newspaper which was the cover of the vinyl album, the beautiful music and words which were grandiose but made little sense.  The whole thing was a brilliant piss-take and yet a hauntingly great record.  No titles for the songs, and – to my ears – it seems all one long piece anyway.  Great stuff – and the beauty of it was that both audience and record company were open-eared ready for whatever came next.   My next Tull album is Minstrel In the Gallery from 1975.  Despite the folky title and some lovely lyrical acoustic stuff, this is still a typical (if there is such a thing) Tull album.  Full of inventive and complex songs and a royal mix of heavy and lighter music.   The title track is the best, but I also like ‘Baker Street Muse’ and ‘Black Satin Dancer’.  The following year’s Songs From The Wood is even better, the songs seem more of a piece – though there is the usual mix of dainty acoustic ditties, flights of fancy flute and bursts of heavier stuff.  Best songs – the title track, ‘The Whistler’ and ‘Velvet Green’.  Next up is Heavy Horses, and again a pretty good album of mixed songs.  In many ways Anderson’s writing is symphonic with repeating motifs and mood changes, yet retaining an overall feel that is all his own.  This is probably why I really like music from this band and although I have failed to keep up with his many releases I have seen them three times in Concert, where somehow the music comes alive even more.  Best songs on this album ‘No Lullaby’, ‘And The Mouse Police Never Sleep’ and ‘One Brown Mouse’.  But in the end one tires of repetition and Jethro Tull were , excellently I must admit, simply repeating themselves – so I sort of lost interest.  Not that precludes me from buying something in the future if the fancy takes me.  One last album, a greatest hits The Very Best Of Jethro Tull.   A few tracks I didn’t have including ‘Too Old To Rock’n’Roll, Too Young To Die’, ‘Life’s a Love Song’ and ‘Bouree’.  A nice, if rather long listen. 

Thick As A Brick - Jethro Tull

My Record Collection 131

Neil Innes – Famously a member of the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, along with Viv Stanshall (see S).  I don’t have any of the group records, but Neil did continue with a solo career, he even had a BBC2 short series where he made amusing videos for his idiosyncratic songs.  I have a sort-of hits album The Innes Book Of Records; well this is really a series of comedy songs, as you might expect from a Bonzo.  Quite a nice listen, but for afficionados only I suspect.

Chris Isaak – An American singer songwriter who has a unique sound, almost old-fashioned 50s crooner style – but he has been making records since the Eighties.  I only have one album San Francisco Days (1993).  Not really sure why I only have the one album – but there you go; even I have to draw the line somewhere.  A very good record though, great singing and the songs are pretty good with a timeless feel.  Best songs ‘Solitary Man’ and ‘San Francisco Days’. 

Bon Iver – only one album, which I bought on the recommendation of Uncut magazine, which raved about it.   Well.  It is okay, but very undercooked; the production so minimal it is barely more than a demo.  Still, okay in it’s way I suppose. The record, his debut is For Emma, Forever Ago and is a sort of love letter to a departed love.  Best tracks, opener ‘Flume’ and ‘The Wolves’ – but maybe I am just getting old, but I really need something I can get my teeth, or at least a couple of braincells into.  This is so flimsy you don’t even notice when the record has ended.

Joe Jackson – had a couple of hits in the Eighties, a sort of rock’n’roll and soul mix.  Great voice though.  I have a greatest hits ‘The Collection’.  I also had a BBC concert on tape which was brilliant.  This album is okay, the hits are great; ‘It’s Different For Girls’ and ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him’ but most of the other songs are not so familiar (except ‘Another World’ which I remember from the live radio concert) and fall away from my consciousness.  He pops up every now and then and is still recording I think but I have no desire to add to my collection.

Jean Michel Jarre – Ah, the great French maestro and electronic music pioneer.  I saw him twice – or rather heard him at the Destination Docklands Concert as we were the other side of the river at Beckton.  Also at Versailles where he had the most amazing dancing laser light show.  I used to have a few albums of his, but only have Oxygene on CD.  It is, of course an absolute classic and was a massive hit.   All the instrumentals are titled Oxygene with numbers after them.  Six pieces of music in all and very good listening too.  Of late I bought my daughter Laura one of his recent albums Electronica.  I am listening to it on Amazon Music and am very impressed.  I will no doubt buy the album for myself soon.

My Record Collection 131

Jools Holland – Famous for his late night live TV show, of which I have watched many; I only have one album Big Band Small World (2001) where the vocals are taken by a fabulous collection of artists including George Harrison, Sting, and Clapton – to name but a few.  All are backed by Jools and his ‘Orchestra’, most songs are piano-led – and, as they say, a splendid time was guaranteed for all.  This was picked up in one of my charity shop trawls.  A nice album, but hardly essential.  My favourite song may be the Beatles song Revolution sung by Stereophonics.  Still.  

The Housemartins – This was the band Paul Heaton was lead singer in before he formed The Beautiful South (see B).  Only one album, a compilation of a few Housemartin tracks and slightly more ‘South’ ones.  Only really notable song from the former is ‘Caravan Of Love’.

Janis Ian – When Alison deserted me in Crete, way back in the late 70’s she had left a single cassette at mine.  One side had Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True (see C) on it and the other Between The Lines by Janis Ian.  I played it to death then went out and bought the albums.  Working backwards later I bought a compilation of Janis’s Sixties recordings – Society’s Child.  Not a bad collection, though very few of the songs really stay in my brain that long.  Then I bought Stars (1974).   This was the Immmmediate predecessor to Between the Lines.  Already her softer, almost whispered and hypnotic voice was here – her earlier style was far higher in pitch; now her voice is slow and seductive and immensely sad.  Great stuff here, so many sad sad songs; this is true bedsit singer songwriter territory – and I loved it.   Best song; the title track ‘Stars’, ‘The Man You Are In Me’ and ‘Jesse’.   The following year and Janis released what most people consider her masterpiece, and is certainly my and most fans favourite album – Between The Lines.  From the opening chords and words the album captivates and holds you close; it seems she is whispering into your ear, a confessional and at times desperately personal and intensely moving voice which seems to bore its way into your soul.  The best known song is ‘At Seventeen’, the realisation of an ‘ugly’ girl who is left out by both boys and peers as well.  Impossible not to sympathise, the words tear at your heart.  But almost every song is moving and this is really a concept album as the feel of almost all the songs is steeped in sadness, even the cover shows an unsure hesitant unsmiling Janis.  My favourite tracks among so many great songs are ‘Light a Light’, ‘Lover’s Lullaby’ and ‘Bright Lights and Promises’.  But really it could have been any three of the 11 wonderful songs.   This remains one of my enduring favourite ever albums…and not just because of Alison….  The next year’s offering Aftertones is still quite pleasant but doesn’t have the magic of Between The Lines.  Still a pretty good record; the opening title track is silky smooth and gorgeous.  Other good songs are ‘I would like to Dance’ and the haunting closer ‘Hymn’.  I did buy a couple of other albums on vinyl but was generally disappointed and haven’t rushed to get more on CD

My Record Collection 130

The Highwaymen – A country music supergroup of the late 80’s.  Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, kris Kristoffersen and Willie Nelson; all Superstars whose stars had maybe faded as times changed.  They had appeared together in a film and recorded 3 albums over 10 years.  A few country hits but eventually they went their separate ways.  I have a Greatest Hits Collection as I am a big fan of both Cash and Kris.  I had barely heard any of these songs before I bought the record – again, a charity shop find I suspect.  Quite a nice listen, a touch too country in some ways, but pretty good.  They all take vocal duties, but best are those by Johnny Cash.  Quite a few of the songs are re-recordings of Kris Kristofferson songs – ‘Desperados Waiting For A Train’, ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ and also a great version of ‘Deportees’, which I think first appeared on a Byrds album, but which Dylan covered brilliantly on the Rolling Thunder Tour.  Maybe I should look out for some of the original albums…

Rupert Hine – A surprise favourite, ever since I bought an LP back in the early seventies called Unfinished Picture.  I knew nothing about Rupert but had read a review in City Limits and took a punt.  He had released one album prior to this, which I tracked down a few years ago.  Pick Up A Bone (1971) was a flop but was the debut album by Rupert and his then writing partner David McIver.  I think Rupert did all the singing and David wrote the lyrics.  A strange album, sometimes whimsical and sometimes a bit angry sounding.  I came to this after his second album and was quite disappointed, but being the completist I am I had to have it.  Re-listening I see signs of the artist that Rupert would become but this record seems a bit hesitant, a bit unsure of itself.  Best songs, ‘Me You Mine’ and ‘Landscape’ – but most of the rest leave me wondering just what was the point.  Still, this was 1971, when record companies were willing to take a chance on new artists, and more importantly give them the freedom to mature and produce really good stuff like Rupert’s second album Unfinished Picture (1973).   This album, by a then unknown artist, was rarely off my turntable.  I loved his off-kilter style and the crazy lyrics (again by David McIver); it was in fact ‘Indie-Pop’ long before the genre was invented.  Rupert plays guitar and piano, and some of the tracks like ‘Doubtfully Grey’ are acoustic, almost a demo but hauntingly beautiful; on others, the production is quite incredible – the whole album was recorded in a church in Paddington; the track ‘Anvils In Five’ featured a thunderstorm recorded as the track was sung.   Rupert was already recording other artists and his skills are used on this record to great effect.  I love every track and especially his voice; as you know it is the voice I especially love with singers, where they are instantly recognisable and the words sound as though they really mean them and are singing just for me. Other great tracks ‘Don’t Be Alarmed’ and ‘Concord(e) Pastiche’.  All round a superb album.

Rupert spent the rest of the Seventies in a band Quantum Jump, I had both albums on vinyl and cassette but so far not on CD.  Then in 1981 a new solo album Immunity.  And what an album, the voice and lyrics emanate panic and danger – lyrics on this and the next 2 albums by poet Jeanette Obstoj, music, production and most instruments by Rupert.   This is one of my all-time favourite records, the production is so clear and different from almost everything else I might have heard.  And the singing and the words are just brilliant.  Hard to pick favourite tracks as they are all good; maybe ‘Samsara’ really stands out, and ‘Psycho Surrender’ and ‘Surface Tension’ always give me that warm feeling of recognition.   Obviously on a roll he followed this the following year with Waving Not Drowning (a quote from Sylvia Plath, and incidentally the title of a different song by Clifford T. Ward {see W}).  Another excellent album, if slightly too close in tone to Immunity.  Still pretty good, favourite songs – ‘The Set Up’, ‘Dark Windows’ and ‘The Outsider’.  The following year he released The Wildest Wish To Fly.  At the time, 1983, I thought he was sounding too samey – but on re-listening I hear new elements to his music.  True, the same sense of danger but a slightly softer production – and the songs seem to have more sections in them.  Anyway, another pretty damned good record from Mr. Hine – best songs – the title song, and ‘Firefly in the Night’.  In the late Eighties, as well as being a full-time producer he released a trio of albums under the band name Thinkman – which was essentially Rupert and a handful of session players.  The first was The Formula (1986).  I came to these rather late, as I had not realised who Thinkman were – however, the albums are pretty good and not that different really from his eponymous records.  This one seems a bit flat and samey; best songs ‘The Formula’ and ‘There Shines The Promised Land’.   Next was Life is A Fulltime Occupation (1989) ; well not my favourite record of his – it seemed a bit too much like its predecessor, a bit ranty – best songs ‘Dance Yourself Sane’ and ‘Bad Angel’.   He did release one other Thinkman disc but I don’t have it (yet).  Then his last solo album in 1994 The Deep End, which surprisingly is really good.  Quite a few slower, dare we say it, love songs – or at least more conventional sounding.  The production is still crystal clear and full of unusual sound collages, especially the final track ‘The Other End’.  But really quite a good record – which was completely ignored by the buying public as per usual.  Favourite songs include ‘Thursday’s Child’, ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘Silver Shoes In The Rain’.  A lovely album.  And sadly Rupert passed away in 2020 – so that is it…

Rupert Hine | Discography & Songs | Discogs