My Record Collection 163

Andrew Loog Oldham – a complete amateur he somehow became record producer and part manager of The Rolling Stones (see R).  He created The Andrew Oldham Orchestra – which was a changing rota of session players as a sideline for various recordings.  The most famous of which was The Rolling Stones Songbook (1966) which I bought – and was quite disappointed by.   Orchestral versons of Stones numbers – quite boring really.

Roy Orbison – No idea why I have only 2 albums by Roy; I remember him from the 60’s and loved him then and right up to his album with The Travelling Wilburys (see T).  Still, there it is – first up is King Of Hearts (1992) – which is a posthumous album produced from demos by Jeff Lynne, and very good it is too.  Roy, who had a string of hits in the 60’s and a quieter 70s and 80s had a late career comeback with the Wilburys.  This album is pretty good – Roy’s voice still sailing over superb melodies and with Jeff’s sympathetic arrangements it is a record to treasure.   This record features a duet with k.d. lang (see L) on Crying, which they both had a hit with, but also ‘I Drove All night’, ‘Careless Heart’ and ‘Heartbreak Radio’.  I also have a live recording of A Black And White Night (1989) a TV special including many famous friends, from Elvis Costello to Bruce Springsteen in the backing band, released shortly after he died.   All the hits are here from ‘Only The Lonely’ to ‘Pretty Woman’ along with later songs like ‘The Comedians’.  A superb record.  Roy was very famous in the Sixties, but over the next three decades he faded from favour, only to be ‘rediscovered’ in the late 80s.  Sadly, he died in 1988 – and I am beginning to realise that my collection is featuring more and more dead artists. 

William Orbit – I must admit I know little of him except that he was a one time producer of Madonna.  He released this unusual album; Pieces in A Modern Style in 1995; it was his first foray into classical music, having previously been focused on dance and electronica.  The music is mostly classical but played on electronic instruments.  It reminds me of early Tangerine Dream (see D) where the droning sound slowly changes from note to note, although most of these pieces are a bit faster and one or two veer into trip hop.  A very pleasant record.

Beth Orton – and English singer songwriter who sung much more like an American, not that that is a criticism at all.  She came into prominence in the late 90s.  First up is Trailer Park (1996) which was her second album.  And pretty damned good it is, lovely mellow voice and the arrangement is clear and uncluttered but with nice beats to fit into the nineties sound. Best tracks are ‘She Calls Your Name’, ‘Sugar Boy’ and ‘Galaxy Of Emptiness’.  Next was Central Reservation (1999)  which for whatever reason I was slightly disappointed with; it just seemed that the songs weren’t as good – oh well.  Just one of those reords that seem to pass you by un-noticed.  Better was my third of hers 2002s Daybreaker.   The sound seems better, a bit more varied – but hard to really distinguish the lyrics or the different songs – maybe it’s just me – getting old.  I have not bothered to buy any more of her music – there just seem to be too many…

Joan Osborne – another American, slightly country singer-songwriter.  I actually bought this album on the strength of a song sung on a Martyn Joseph (see M) album – ‘If God was One Of Us’, which I loved.  The album that song was on by Joan was Relish, her first amd my only album of hers in 1995.  I really like it and am asking myself why only the one album….who knows.  A very accomplished and relaxed slightly raspy voice and a great collection of songs, best of which are the above mentioned and opener ‘St. Theresa’, but I also like her cover of Dylan’s ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’ (rare for a cover to be nearly as good as his original) and ‘Let’s Just get Naked’.  A really good album.

Gilbert O’Sullivan – another very strange one.  Gilbert (obviously not his real name) burst on the scene dressed like some orphaned waif from the thirties, flat cap and all.  I didn’t think much of his image – but, boy could he sing and he wrote some incredible songs.  An almost instant hit.  And then after one brilliant album he changed.  He went completely middle of the road and wrote and sung soppy ballads for the mum’s market.  Oh Well.  I still treasure that first album Himself (1971).  It has a uniqueness, a lasting quality and despite a corniness at times some great melodies and lyrics.  Favourites of course are ‘Nothing Rhymed’, ‘Matrimony’ and ‘If I Don’t Have You back Again’.  But really, not a bad track on this brilliant debut album.  After this Gilbert abandoned his thirties waif look and went so far into the middle of the road that you cold see the white line right down his middle. 

Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Alone Again (Naturally),' The Song ...

My Record Collection 162

Oasis – First off, I never liked them – them; meaning the obnoxious brothers Gallagher.  However, they made a great career by copying the Beatles template and I gave in and bought their greatest hits Stop The Clocks.  Of course, the big ones are here, but despite that I find the songs repetitive and a bit boring.  Still, I do like ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Don’t look Back in Anger’.

Sinead O’Connor – Well, what do you say about this woman; a hauntingly beautiful voice, a quite deranged at times public persona and a consistently intriguing songwriter and singer.  In short – you never know what to expect next with her.  We start with her second record; I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. (1990).   A mostly gentle album, the vocals plaintive and heartfelt, includes her biggest hit; the prince song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’.  But my favourites are ‘Three babies’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.  This was the album which really establish Sinead as a major star – this was before her occasional rants and meltdowns.  Next up is a covers album from 1992 Am I Not Your Girl – this is a very ‘big band’ jazzy sound of covers of songs she says she grew up with.  And very good it is too – I am not so sure the jazzy arrangement works so well with her voice but it is a very listenable record.   Sinead does a very good version of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ and I also like ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ and ‘Secret Love’.  It was during the promotion of this album that Sinead had a tirade against the Pope and the Catholic Church which almost ruined her career, especially in America.    Her fourth, my third album was Universal Mother (1994) which is probably my favourite of hers; her voice seems better suited to these songs, varied as they are.  There is politics in there with ‘Red Football’ and a possibly, newly found interest in Rastafarian beliefs with ‘Fire On Babylon’.  A song about Ireland ‘Famine’ – and her gentlest most beautiful song – ‘Thankyou For Hearing Me.’  I sort-of stopped buying her records for a while – but I did buy a double album (though it is the same songs sung differently) – Theology – (2007).   The two versions – Dublin Acoustic and London Full Band is interesting, but ultimately doesn’t justify a double CD; I think I prefer the full band sessions.  Best songs are hard to find as this is a particularly monotonous album – nothing really stands out I am afraid.

Mike Oldfield – I can remember quite clearly buying his debut album in 1973 after reading a review in (I think) City Limits.  It was Tubular Bells, by anunknown artist on a brand new label, Virgin – and it was totally instrumental -I loved it, as obviously did thousands of others as it was an immediate success.  It became part of the soundtrack of the early Seventies, it was part progressive, part classical in approach – and famously it had the inimical vocal introduction of Viv Stanshall (see S) which added a touch of humour to the proceedings.   Unlike anything before it or since (though Mike has released several other similar albums) it remains a monument to one person’s vision and instantly takes one back to those heady days in Music when anything was possible, and usually happened.  I used to own on vinyl his 2 follow-up albums; Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn but have not bothered to get them on CD.  His fourth album was Incantations (1978); I only acquired this much later and frankly it is fairly boring, it does nothing for me.  I also bought a much later album Tubular Bells 3; the only reason to include this as a ‘Tubular Bells’ album was to increase sales, and actually to dupe people.  I read the review in Uncut and realised that this was actually quite a varied album, lots of shorter tracks with only a passing resemblance on one or two songs to his earlier classic.  It is more influenced by the dance music of the 90s than his earlier work.  I find I quite a pleasant listen really – best tracks are – ‘Outcast’, ‘The Inner Child’ and ‘Moonwatch’.   I also have a greatest hits Moonlight Shadow – which is a pretty good collection of mostly early tracks or excerpts.