My Record Collection 191

The Sutherland Brothers (and Quiver) – One of my very favourite English, or should I say, Scottish bands.  The brothers, Iain and Gavincame from Peterhead near Glasgow and fell in love with music in the Sixties.  They were in a couple of early bands before they landed a contract with Island records.  The Sutherland Brothers Band was their first release in 1972.  There wasn’t even a real band, as the drummer and bass player left as soon as the album was recorded.  Still, it was a pretty good beginning, a bit folky really.  Best songs ‘The Pie’, ‘Medium Wave’ and ‘Midnight Avenue’.  It failed to chart, and I only bought it after seeing the new band live in ’74.  As a duo the boys next effort was Lifeboat (1973).  A much more solid album, recorded with various session players.  This album established their signature sound, the lovely harmonies and great hook ridden songs. A great album; best tracks – the title track, ‘Lady Like You’, ’Love Is My Religion’ and ‘Real Love’. In fact this was their best album; certainly the best songs and a great production by Muff Winwood.  In order to tour thy joined up with another Island band; Quiver – who were great musicians but poor songwriters.  The collaboration was so good they recorded an album later that same year – Dream Kid.  I think they were struggling a bit for new songs, as these are a touch weak.  Saying that I really like the title track and ‘Seagull/lonely Love’ and ‘Rolling Away’.  1974 saw them release Beat Of The Street – a more confident album all round.  From opener ‘World In Action’ to closer ‘Last Boy Over The Moon’ they don’t put a foot wrong.  My faves are ‘Laid Back In Anger’ and ‘Beat Of The Street’.  A very good record.   They released Reach For The Sky in ’75; another very accomplished album.  Best are ‘When The Train Comes’, Love On The Moon’ – and of course their best single, the wonderful ‘Arms Of Mary’.   Slipstream came out in 1976.  I must have seen them live around this time, and they were excellent.  I don’t think they ever released a live album though.  This album is again very very good; best songs ‘Dark powers’, ‘Something’s Burning’ and ‘Sweet Cousin’ – but not a poor track on it.  Down To Earth (1977) saw the band just a three piece as Quiver broke up.  Another excellent album; almost their best – I particularly like ‘Ice In The Fire’, ‘Situations’ and ‘Somebodies Fool’.   Then the drummer of what was left of Quiver finally departed.  The brothers were more and more disillusioned with the record business and had stopped touring.  The duo recorded one last album in 1979 – When The Night Comes Down.  A really nice album to say goodbye with.  Best songs – ‘Natural Thing’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Easy come, Easy Go’.   I also have The Very Best of The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver…a very nice compilation – but nothing new.  One of the brothers Gavin has released a couple of albums.  I only have Diamonds and Gold – a very nice, gentle and quite quiet album.  Best songs – title track and  ‘Lilys Bible’.

Emma Swift – Australian by birth, she has only released one album to date 2019’s Blonde On The Tracks.  This is an album of Dylan songs, and it is brilliant.  Gorgeous renditions, ranging from ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ and ‘One Of Us Must Know’ to a handful from Blood on the Tracks (hence the title) and including ‘I contain Multitudes’ from his latest album.  There is something about her soft voice and diction and emphasis and phrasing that so complements these songs, infusing them with a gentler sound than the originals, but no less powerful.  A great debut – although she has released 2 Eps of her own songs before this. 

Sutherland Brothers | John Peel Wiki | Fandom

My Record Collection 190

STING – Well, I have always been a bit ambivalent about Sting.  I liked The Police, but not enough to buy their albums and I have only sporadically bought Sting’s solo stuff.  The Dream Of The Blue Turtles (1985) was his solo debut, and pretty good it is too.  A nice variety of songs, best are ‘If You Love Somebody Let Them Go’, ‘Russians’ with its ever more important anti-war sentiment and ‘Consider Me Gone’.  For whatever reason I didn’t buy any others until 1999’s Brand New Day.   Quite a jazzy feel to the record, and an Arabian sound on a couple of tracks, most notably ‘Desert Rose’ add a bit of variety.  Something about Sting makes me feel he is trying just a bit too hard.  While the album is okay it doesn’t move me really.  I also (foolishly) bought Songs From The Labrynth (2009).  Well…it is a pretty authentic classical song and poetry cycle from the 1600’s.  A bit of a curates egg, good in places – buy quite honestly you tire of the lute and old melodies pretty quickly.  Pretentious – yeah.  I also have a greatest hits – Fields Of Gold – which only takes us up to 1994 (far enough, methinks).  A very good selection – best are the title track, ‘They Dance Alone’, ‘Englishman in New York’ and ‘Demolition Man’.  Maybe this is all you really need of Sting

Joss Stone – nice voice, nice songs very bluesy and soulful – but, it did nothing for me really – not my genre I am afraid.

Stranglers – just a greatest hits album…excellent hit songs of the late 70s – Peaches (memories of this on the last holiday with Joy before we split up), ‘Golden brown’ and ‘Always The Sun’.  A nice blast from the past.

Syd Straw – Never heard of her? Nor had I until I picked up a couple of CD singles- then I was slightly hooked.  Very nice voice and idiosyncratic songs.  Of course she never made it; another talent chewed up by the record industry.  Anyway – just 2 major releases – first was Surprise (1989).  Some really good songs – ‘Think Too Hard’, ‘Heart Of Darkness’ and ‘Racing To The Ruins’.  Another album came out in 1996 – War and Peace.  Well, not quite so good really. A nice voice but the songs seem a bit too run of the mill.  Best are – ‘The Toughest Girl in The World’ and ‘All Things Change’.

The Strawberry Statement – a film from the very early 70’s which was quite revolutionary at the time, a sort of hippy dream.  It featured some great music interspersed with aome classical stuff like ‘Also Sprach Zarathrustra’ – best are Buffy singing ‘The Circle Game’ and 3 songs by Neil young and one by CSNY.  This CD brings back fond memories of when I was just starting on my musical adventure and discovering many artists who would go on to be my very favourites ever.

The Strokes – They say you should never buy a book by the cover, the same should be true of an album.  The cover of the strokes album was a girls bare bottom.  Oh well.  Actually the record Is This It (2001)wasn’t too bad.  It was their debut and meant to shock of course.   A sort of garage, post punk sound which I soon tired of really.  Best songs ‘Last nite’ and ‘New York City girls’.

Supertramp – were one of those bands that came from England and took the World by storm for a short time, only to fade and die and now nobody really likes them.  A quite individual sound and somewhat amusing songs – I have Retrospectacle – a greatest hits double compilation, which is quite enough I think.  Some very good old songs – ‘Dreamer’, ‘Right, Bloody Well Right’ and ‘From Now  On’ on disc 1 and  ‘Logical’ and ‘Breakfast In America’ from disc 2.     But listening to some of this stuff for the first time in years – it was very repetitive, piano driven and high voices, almost disco-ish. 

The Strawberry Statement

My Record Collection 189

Rod – The Later Years  – it is incredibly difficult for any artist to sustain a very long career, especially with the record industry screaming for new product.  Rod had had an incredibly good run – but as the Eighties beckoned he seemed to be both still chasing fame and sounding weary of it all.  Foolish Behaviour came out in 1980, and apart from 2 songs really it was below par.  ‘Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight’ and the closer ‘Say It Aint True’ are pretty good, but the other songs sound either frenzied rockers or soppy ballads.  Tonight I’m Yours 1981,  had a couple of good songs but was another shouty album; Rod trying too hard.  Best were the title track and ‘How Long’.  Body Wishes came out in 1983 and has the dubious distinction of not only being his poorest album, but the worst title and cover too.  Only slightly redeemed by having one great song – ‘Baby Jane’.  Camouflage 1984 was not much better really; best tracks – ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’ and ‘Trouble’.   Every Beat Of My Heart 1986 was hardly any better; the title track obviously a big hit, but little else appeals, except maybe the final track – a cover of Beatles ‘In My Life’.  Out Of Order followed in ’88 – the lengthening between albums not really improving the quality.  Apart from the opening track ‘Lost In You’ this record just passed me by, like traffic when I was waiting for a bus.  Vagabond Heart 1991 – was much better -it was as if the curse of the Eighties had passed and Rod, to some degree, had re-found his mojo. Opener ‘Rhythm Of My Heart’, although a bit mawkish was a big hit, but the album also contained a duet with Tina Turner ‘It Takes Two’ and a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’ but best of all are ‘Broken Arrow’ and ‘Downtown Train’; both covers but probably better then the originals.  I also like ‘The Motown Song’.  It seemed that Rod had finally stopped trying to be the latest thing, be it Rock screamer or Disco dolly and just be himself.  A Spanner In The Works 1995 was possibly even better, a quiet reflective sort of album, hardly any fast songs.  One thing I have noticed was that once CDs became the main medium they just got  longer and longer.  When Vinyl was all we had 20minutes a side was it, but with the new found freedom of CDs, albums just got longer; 12 songs rather than 8 or 10 and many over 5 minutes.  So, tedium starts to set in as you wonder if the blinking record is ever going to end.  Anyway, a nice selection of very good songs;  best of which are probably ‘Leave Virginia Alone’, Dylan’s ‘Sweetheart Like You’ and ‘This’ – though there isn’t a poor track on it really.   1998 saw When We Were The New Boys – which in some ways was a tribute to old band The Faces, especially as the track ‘Ooh La La’ was never sung by Rod at the time and was written by Ronnie Lane, who died a year before this record.  The title track also harks back to those early 70’s days.  But best songs are ‘Secret Heart’ – written by Ron Sexsmith (see S), the infectious and naughty ‘Hotel Chambermaid’ and ‘Shelly My Love’.  A very nice collection of songs.  2001 was Rod’s last album for Warner Brothers – Human. An album of soul covers, well sung but not quite as brilliant as maybe he hoped it might be; possibly because there were about 15 different producers, so no overall sound.  Still – a pleasant, if not his best album.  Best are ‘Smitten’ and ‘Peach’.  In 1993 Rod released a bit of a retrospective album Lead Vocalist – with a great cover.   A good resume, including 3 Faces tracks – but 5 or 6 songs I had never heard before; three were later released as singles.  The best are of course ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and ‘Waltzing Mathilda’, but I really like ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘First I Look At The Purse’.  And  of course another chance to hear 3 or 4great Faces tracks. Next is a 4 CD collection Storyteller  released n 1989, it is career wide resume, and excellent.  Disc 1 covers early years with a track from Steampacket, and also has some excellent singles and b sides.  As well as the cream on the cake…’In A Broken Dream’ recorded for a band ‘Python Lee Jackson’ which went to number 1.  Disc 2 – is the best really as it covers The Faces years.  All the hits plus ‘What Made Milwaukee Famous’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the last Faces single – ‘You Can Make Me Dance’.  Disc 3 The American years to 1980 is as expected very good, but nothing new. Disc 4 is 81 to 89.  Nothing really exciting about this last one, except to say how incredible Rod has been over a sustained career, and each album still managed to contain at least one outstanding song.  Then for what ever reason; maybe a real love, maybe the money – anyway Rod started on his American Songbook series – I have resisted the attempt to buy them…sometimes enough really is enough.  2006 and Rod released Still The Same – a collection of his interpretations of great Rock and Roll classics. Quite a nice album -nothing really outstanding – but Rod could read the phone directory and it would sound good.  He repeated the format in 2009 with Soulbook – a collection of Tamla classics.   Of course, the songs are all classics and Rod, mostly, does them justice, but somehow it doesn’t work – maybe because the songs are so familiar in their original versions that you cannot really enjoy Rod’s mostly authentic but unimproved versions.  Time (2013) is the latest I have of Rod’s.   And excellent it is.  A real return to form.  He wrote almost all the lyrics for the songs, and they sound quite heartfelt.  Great melodies and a couple of real rockers.  Much more like his first three or four American albums.  Best are ‘You Make Me Happy’, ‘Brighton Beach’ and ‘It’s Over’.  I get the feeling that Rod was looking back over his many girlfriends and wives and writing songs to specific ones.  I am still collecting, slowly – as Rod jeeps on knocking them out.  A real trooper

My Record Collection 188

Rod Stewart – Rod The Mod

What can you say about the great Rod Stewart.  When he was with The Faces (see F) he (they) were the best live band in England.   But before that he had played with Long John Baldry and Jeff Beck (see B) {who sadly died a few days ago}.  The first in my collection is Rod Stewart Live – not sure when this was released, obviously when he achieved fame.  It is stuff from his Jeff Beck days I think, but there are no credits on this unlicensed CD.  Not so wonderful really, apart from ‘Shake’ and ‘Little Miss Understood’ it is a bit bland really.   His real solo career happened when he had already signed for Mercury, but was tied to another contract with The Faces.  He managed to combine both skillfully, often using the band members, especially Ronnie Wood as his studio band for solo efforts.  First up is the oddly titled An Old Raincoat Won’t let You Down 1969.  Of course, I, like almost everyone else missed this at the time but when Maggie May exploded I went back and bought his first 2 albums.   And what a debut it was….a pretty good rocking sound; a cover of The Stones ‘Street Fighting Man’…a pretty good ‘Dirty Old Town’ and best of all his first real Masterpiece of a song.  He took a song written by Mike D’Abo of Manfred Mann and transformed it.  ‘Handbags and Gladrags’  never sounded better and never will.  The album sold relatively poorly, but his next was a ‘bubbling under’ hit.  Gasoline Alley 1970…was a step up again.  It was essentially a Faces album (and better than they ever achieved themselves).  Elton and Bernie wrote a track ‘Country Comforts’, and there were a couple of full-on Faces tracks, in fact ‘My Way Of Giving’ was an old Ronnie Lane/Stevie Marriot tune. But best were ‘Cut Across Shorty’ and a Rod solo write ‘Lady Day’.  A brilliant album.  The album was a  slow burner but really took off after Rod’s next.  Every Picture Tells A Story – 1971 was the alum that broke Rod. In fact it had the distinction of being number one in both America and Britain along with the single ‘Maggie May’.  I can still recall seeing Rod and the Faces live on Top Of The Pops, along with Gallagher and Lyle in the background.  The album itself was immaculate; a mixture of pure rock  – the title track with Long John Baldry sharing vocals; a lovely rendition of a Tim Hardin song ‘Reason To Believe’ but my very favourite was the beautiful ‘Mandolin Wind’.  Not a bad track on the record.  Rod was now officially Rod the Mod, with his signature haircut he was king of the pop world.  1972 saw the release of another classic Never A Dull Moment with another hit single ‘You Wear It Well’ to boot.  A similar template, with contributions from The Faces and Ronnie Wood in particular.  Best songs; Dylan’s ‘Mama You Been On My Mind’, ‘Twisting The Night Away’ and ‘Lost Paraquayos’.  Another hugely successful record.  Well, Rod’s fame was tearing the Faces apart, with promoters even listing them as Rod Stewart and the Faces, to the annoyance of, especially Ronnie Lane.  His next album 1974’s delayed Smiler was a disappointment.  It felt a bit half-hearted and only Wood of the Faces appeared on it.   12 songs of which only a handful were originals….however on re-listening it is not really that bad….best – ‘Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller’, ‘Girl Form The North Country’ and ‘Mine For me’.  Well, by this time Rod’s contract with Mercury was fulfilled and America and big bucks were calling.  He recorded his next album in the States without The Faces and he left the band soon after (which may have been precipitated by Ron Wood joining The Stones}.  Atlantic Crossing 1975 was not only a complete change of style but a triumph and the first of a run of brilliant records.  Gone was the ramshackle but great fun band recordings, in came session players and a subtle and very commercial (but still wonderful) sound.  Our boy sure did good.  Hard to pick best songs but ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It’ and ‘This Old Heart Of Mine’ are standout tracks…but may best was the worldwide hit ‘Sailing’; this was an album track from The Sutherland Brothers (see S). Rod was always very adept at picking songs.  He did write a few himself, but was very clever at choosing great songs which suited his voice and style.  A Night On The Town followed in 76, and if anything this was even better.  Not a poor or filler track on it.  From the old Manfred Mann song ‘Pretty Flamingo’ to the Cat Stevens classic ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ he managed to make these songs his own.  But his own songs ‘The Killing Of Georgie’ and ‘Tonight’s the Night’ are brilliant too – but my favourite is the final track ‘Trade Winds’.  Rod was now unassailable, and along with Elton he was the Seventies personified.  Footloose and Fancy Free came out in 1977 and was the third of an incredible run of American albums.  In some ways he was getting better and better, especially with the poignant, semi-autobigraphical ballads such as ‘I Was Only Joking’ and ‘You’ve Got A Nerve’.  The album had the first of his sexy songs ‘Hot Legs’, which appealed to a different but large fanbase.  But best of all was the classic ‘You’re In My Heart’ – possibly dedicated to Britt Eckland, who many credit with his move to America, break-up with the Faces and change of direction.  Who knows – it may well have happened despite her.  In any case Rod broke up with her in 1977 and soon embarked on a series of leggy young blondes, many of which gave him children; 7 in total.   His last (in my opinion) really great American album was Blondes Have More Fun (1978), even if does contain the mega hit ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’.   He did of course, write and record several more brilliant songs, however, mostly the albums were patchy.  Of course this didn’t stop me buying them.  Blondes does have some great songs and is pretty good throughout.   Best are ‘Is That The Thanks I Get’, ‘The Best Days Of Our Lives’ and ‘Aint Love A Bitch’.  Finishing off this section I have a Greatest Hits from the Mercury Years, all the best bits from first 5 albums plus John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and ‘I Think It Will Rain’ – a pretty good summary.  Also a double Handbags and Gladrags which had a few b sides of singles on and all the old favourites to boot. 

ROD STEWART photo promotionnelle de musicien de rock anglais à propos de  2000 Photo Stock - Alamy