Alison Moyet – She of the great bluesy contralto voice. She came to fame as part of the duo Yazoo (see Y) with Vince Clarke. But after 2 albums Vince moved on and Alison went solo. Her debut album Alf (1984) was a brilliant concoction of powerful songs including a couple of hit singles. My favourites are probably ‘Invisible’, ‘Twisting The Knife’ and ‘Love Resurrection’. A great start to a great career. Alison became the premier British female vocalist after this record. She followed up three years later with Raindancing, another superb album; a bit more mature and a few more ballads but a great collection nevertheless. Best are ‘Weak In The Prescence Of Beauty’, ‘Is This Love’ and ‘Stay’. If anything, a less commercial success but a classic album anyway. I did have her album Essex on vinyl and cassette long ago but not on digital at present. She half retired to bring up her child and returned in this century. Only one other original album – Voice (2004) – has found its way onto my CD racks, probably via a charity shop. Well, it is another of those ‘Classic songs’ recorded with an orchestra. Okay in their way but they rarely improve on the originals (see Nilsson N; who absolutely nailed this genre) – however I barely know most of these songs so they sound okay – although I think her voice is better on more up-tempo numbers. Still. Not bad are Costello’s ‘Almost Blue’ and bonus track ‘Alfie’ which was of course sung by Cilla way back in the day. Better was1995 double CD Singles – which was of course her early singles, including those with Yazzoo. My favourites are ‘The First Time Ever I saw Your Face’ and ‘That Old Devil Called Love and ‘Ode To Boy’. An excellent collection. The other CD was a live compilation which is also excellent – best ‘Is This Love’ and ‘Nobodys Diary’. Alison is still making albums but I think I have quite enough thanks.
Jimmy Nail – was an actor form the Northeast who achieved fame in the sitcom ‘Auf Weidershein Pet’. He became a sort of flavour of the month and tried his hand at singing too. Not that he is a bad singer at all, and he has quite a distinctive voice – but he was never cut out to be a rocker and others were smoother and more soulful than him. I picked up his second, 1992’s Growing Up In Public in a charity shop. It is okay, quite soulful and well sung and produced but it doesn’t really hit the spot for me. Tracks ‘Laura’ and ‘Only love Can Bring Us Home’ are good songs but the rest just pass me by. Of course, he really hit paydirt with the TV series Crocodile Shoes (1994) and the accompanying CD. Nail played a singer songwriter in the Americana UK scene and sung the songs himself, almost all written by others. But a great collection of songs they were. The whole album just rolls along – best are the title track, ‘Only One Heart’ and ‘Cowboy Dreams’ (written by the great PMcAloon of Prefab Sprout (see P). The album was a huge hit, partly because of the TV series, and 2 years later after the second series Jimmy released Crocodile Shoes 2. Another very enjoyable album, maybe not such memorable songs as the original but pretty good. Best songs ‘Blue Roses’, ‘I’m A Troubled Man’ and opener ‘Country Boy’. And that is it for Jimmy Nail really. I’ve not been tempted since.
Graham Nash – once of The Hollies, the Manchester rivals to The Fabs, who never quite made it, possibly because they seemed incapable of changing their sound and seemed stuck in the pretty pop era. In ’68 he visited California, fell in love with Joni and harmonised with David Crosby (see C) – the rest is, as they say, History. He became a founder member of CSN and CSNY and recorded a few albums with David too. He was also, while the band was ‘resting’ releasing solo albums. The very best of which I think was his solo debut album Songs For Beginners (1971). Somehow creativity seems to come in bursts and Graham was invigorated by his new found groupmates and this album came out shortly after their debut. It really is a superb record; every song a winner and actually quite concise – 11 songs and under 35 minutes too. But you simply want to replay it as soon as it ends. From the opener ‘Military Madness’ to closer ‘We Can Change The World’ Graham doesn’t put a foot wrong. My favourites are ‘Be Yourself’, ‘Chicago’ and the beautiful ‘Sleep Song’. A superb album all round and a long-time favourite. Three years later and he released Wild Tales, a darker less melodic and more complex album which reflected the death of his lover Amy and the first (of many) break-ups of CSNY. After this he joined David Crosby (see C) and performed and made albums as a duo for a number of years. The album Wild Tales was never a real favourite, in fact I felt it was a disappointment after his debut – so it goes. On re-listening though it is not so bad at all. Best are ‘You’ll never Be The Same’ and ‘oh Camil’ and ‘Another Sleep Song’. Graham did release a handful of solo albums over the years – but you know how it is – there are just two many…But I did buy his latest retrospective from 2020 – a double Over The Years. No real surprises; a lot of well-known songs and a whole album of demo’s, which add zilch to the studio versions. Only one decent new sounding song ‘Cathedral’, but nice to hear a few old favourites again. I recently read Graham Nash’s autobiography – apparently The Hollies would have been as big as The Beatles if they has only listened to Graham Nash – and Crosy Stills Nash and Young too, if only it weren’t for Crosby, Stills and Neil Young. Oh well.