My Record Collection 171

Eddi Reader – She was the lead singer in Fairground Attraction (see F) which I loved, even though they were very short-lived as a band, I felt that her voice carried the group, even if she was not the songwriter.  She also appeared in a BBC Scotland series ‘Your Cheating Heart’ (see W) which was superb; so, I had high hopes for her as a solo artist – but really, I find she has been disappointing and seems to have had an obscure and sporadic career.  Her second album Eddi Reader (1994) was pretty encouraging – (I did have her first on vinyl, but not on CD) I especially like ‘The Patience of Angels’, ‘Dear John’ and ‘Joke’.  It was a bit idiosyncratic and I had high hopes – which were never reached as her next Candyfloss and Medicine (1996) seemed a bit bland. The only song which seems to resonate was ‘Rebel Angel’.  Two years later she released Angels and Electricity.  And it got no better.  Listening again it seems just too light, too ethereal and passes you by like the traffic on a busy road…oh well.  She has continued recording but I haven’t dipped my toe in the water since.

Lou Reed – was the lead singer in The Velvet Underground (see V), and was a great friend and influence on Bowie (see B), who produced his biggest hit album Transformer (see below) – he also married Laurie Anderson (see L), a real avant garde artist who simply ploughed his own furrow, regardless of praise or record sales.  Only the one record – the big one – Transformer, and quite an excellent if now sounding a bit dated, record it was.  Lou Reed has a lazy drawling voice which works on some songs and not on others.  But the production is second to none and the sheer brilliance of the songs shine through.  Best are ‘Perfect Day’, ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and ‘Satellite Of Love’. 

Otis Redding – One of the great soul voices of the Sixties, who died tragically so young and just after his first bite of the fame cherry.  A seemingly effortless style, he apparently nailed ‘Dock of The Bay’ at a first attempt.  I only really knew that song and years later bought a Greatest Hits compilation on the strength of it.  He seems to have recorded many songs that were also hits by others ‘Respect’ (Aretha) and ‘Satisfaction’ (Stones) and a gorgeous ‘Mr Pitiful’ and ‘My Girl’ – a lovely but rarely played collection.

Terry Reid – another unheard of genius.  He made quite a stir in late sixties London and went to L.A. to try a solo career, while there he got a call to front a new band, which he declined instead suggesting a friend of his.  The friend was Robert Plant and the new band was Led Zeppelin.  Oh well.  He had made 2 albums and a few singles in London which had sold poorly but pleased the critics.  They have been re-released along with the singles as a double album Superlungs.  A mixed bag really, some incredible performances and some sounding just too ordinary – which almost sums up his career.  Best on disc 1 are ‘Season Of The Witch’ (a Donovan song covered also by The Zombies), ‘Better By Far’ and ‘Without Expression’.  Disc 2 was a bit jazzier and more like his next album in style. Some good tracks – best were ‘Stay With Me Baby’, ‘Rich Kids Blues’ and a cover of Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’.  He moved to America and recorded his first album River in 1973 – it was one of those albums that was an underground hit but never surfaced to general applause.   It was way ahead of it’s time really – a fusion of jazz and rock which had some great tracks but nothing commercial on it.  I remember when Joy and I first met; she played me River and I played her McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway.  Love at first listening.  It still wows me…best tracks are ‘Dean’, ‘River’ and ‘Milestones’ (where he duets with himself on a dreamy coda – lovely).   Quite recently an album of other tracks from these sessions was released – The Other Side Of The River.  It’s okay, but nothing as good as the finished record.  He followed River with my favourite of his records Seeds Of Memory (1976).  This is just one of those records you can fall in love with’ it simply rolls along – great tunes, great singing and playing and enough variety to keep you coming back for more.  From the first guitar notes of lead off track ‘Faith To Arise’ you are hooked – well I was anyway.  Almost every song a winner – especially the title track and ‘Brave Awakening’ which is a quite unique song, never heard anything like it before (or since).  Great stuff.  So, what went wrong?  Who knows, but he never reached these starstruck heights again – or came even close.  The record sold poorly and his follow up was a huge disappointment.  Rogue Waves (1979) casts him as a middle of the road rock singer and features covers of ‘Walk Away Renee’, ‘Then I Kissed Her’ and others and a very few original songs.  Which is a great pity as he has written some great tunes for others and collaborated with many rock idols of the 60’s and 70’s.  having said that his voice on some of these songs is superb….if you like that sort of thing.   He turned to session work in the 80s, singing and playing guitar for various artists.  But in 1991 he recorded a new album – The Driver.  Well, not as good as his first 2 U.S. albums but not so bad really.  A good cover of the Waterboys ‘The Whole Of The Moon’, but which really adds little to the original.  Likewise, a cover of Traffics ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ – good but not that much better.  A few self-written songs, best of which are ‘The Fifth Of July’ and ‘Laugh At Life’; overall a disappointment.  No more studio albums either but a quite interesting Live In London, released in 2013.  Terry seems to still enjoy singing and playing, and he is quite a raconteur too.  A few expanded songs from his great albums like ‘River’ and ‘Faith To Arise’.  Although the new songs seem a bit rambling and unfocussed.  A good cover of Sinatra hit ‘In The Wee Small hours’ – but overall a far too slow jazzy sound for my old ears.

TERRY REID seed of memory, BCL 5162

My Record Collection 170

Pulp – another of the 90‘s bands that erupted along with Oasis and Blur as some sort of new British revival of Pop.  And pretty damned good they were too, though it all seemed down to frontman Jarvis Cocker.  I have just the one CD – Different Class – which was probably their biggest record.  Quite enjoyable, and definitely takes you back – best songs are ‘Common People’, ‘Disco 2000’ and ‘Sorted for E’s and Whizz’. 

Quantum Jump – This was my old friend Rupert Hine recording as a band with session players.  I am struggling to buy their two albums on CD so have had to resort to youtube…oh well.  Great music, as you would expect. 

Queen – well, almost as big as The Beatles were in the previous decade.  I had most of their albums but just their three greatest hits on CD these days. Greatest Hits 1 was really the best of course.  From ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ through to ‘We Are The Champions’ it doesn’t falter at all.  Personal favourites are ‘Killer Queen’, ‘You’re My Best Friend’ and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.  They managed to be both pioneering in musical styles and incredibly commercial at the same time.  And especially with their late career comeback at Live Aid who could not love them.   Greatest Hits 2 – is their later stuff, still great mostly; especially ‘Hammer To Fall’ and ‘Radio GaGa’ and of course the duet with Bowie ‘Under Pressure’.  Another great collection.  Greatest Hits 3 – though, is a disappointment. Sounds of scraping the barrel ensue – a few minor tracks and solo efforts by Freddie and Brian May, and a couple of live renditions with different vocalists – still, as a coda it sort-of works.  And despite loving them early on and even in their pomp and maturity I have no desire to get the albums….mind you, if a decent box set comes out…

Gerry Rafferty – he of Stealers Wheel (see S) – he had one great album really and then sort of drifted off stage left.   City To City was a superb record; of course it contained the sublime jazzy track ‘Baker Street’, which is one of those songs which just has legs and still receives loads of radio play (just like Stuck in the middle with you, another Rafferty song by Stealers Wheel).  But almost every song is really good, especially ‘Stealin |Time’ and ‘Whatever’s Written In Your Heart’.  A lovely record, and though he continued to record he never had another big hit album. 

Chris Rea – another Northeast boy, who slowly grew in popularity; a superb guitarist and a soulful voice and best of all an excellent songwriter.   I caught up with him a bit late and worked backwards a bit – though not all the way.  First up is Water Sign (1983); no big hits but his unique laid-back soulful style was there and the songs just roll along. A few favourites –‘I Can Hear Your Heart Beat’, ‘Texas’ and ‘Midnight Blue’.  In fact not a bad song anywhere.   This was followed by possibly his real breakthrough album Shamrock Diaries (1985) – A classic album featuring the big hit ‘Stainsby Girls’ and also ‘Steel River’ (about his home town of Newcastle) and ‘Josephine’.  His popularity soared after this, he had a unique sound and a distinctive gentle voice and seemed to catch the mid-eighties wave for soulful smooth almost jazzy music.  I didn’t buy everything of his but his next album was On The Beach (1986).  This seemed a slower, more reflective record – the title track is very laidback, and I love ‘Giverney’ (home of Monet).  ‘Little Blonde Plaits’ is sweet too.  In fact, the whole album just drifts by in a haze of gentle guitar and voice, which can mean of course that you don’t really hear the words at all.  Much better was his biggest album The Road To Hell (1989).  The title track was a huge hit and established Chris as a real star.  The whole album is much stronger, the production more varied and a full band sound; the songs too seem to be better; the words seem to stick in the brain a bit better.  Best songs are the title song, ‘Daytona’, ‘You Must Be Evil’ and ‘Texas’.  thoroughly enjoyable album.    Next was Auberge (1991) – and another sumptuous album.  I especially like the title track and Gone Fishing and Every Second Counts.  The Road To Hell Volume 2 – 1991 was a bit of a disappointment, as it always is when a famous album is attempted to be used to sell a new one.  It was probably okay but I cannot really recall a great song.  Espresso Logic (1993) is my last of his; this was a bit better, especially the songs Julia and ‘Summer Love’.  Last is one of the earlier Greatest Hits – which is superb, especially ‘Ace of Hearts’.

TOM051 : Chris Rea - Iconic Images