My Record Collection 201

Tina Turner – Wow, what a singer, and what a lady.  Overcoming a terrible marriage and near destitution in the late 70’s, ahe made a remarkable return to making great records in the mid 80’s.  I only have her Greatest Hits….but what Hits.  ‘Private Dancer’ and ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ being my very favourites.  She has, of course, recently passed away.

Shania Twain – a Canadian country singer who had a few hits with crossover Country and almost disco songs, many from the one album I own; Come On Over (1997).  Wow, what a hit-filled album this is.  Almost every song a winner – even if, overlong, it does get a tad tedious by the end.  Still – a great album, best songs are ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’, ‘You’re Still The One’ and ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’.  Funnily enough, I’ve never been tempted to but any of her other offerings.

29 Palms – another very obscure CD.  I had a habit in early naughties and late nineties of trawling second hand shops for, what were then a novelty; CD singles.  I came across a couple by this band, and so bought this album.  I have since discovered that this was 2 English guys, who only ended up making 2 records.  The first was Fatal Joy (1990).  Of course, they were far too good to make it in the record industry.  A lovely lyrical gentle album – plaintive singing and great songs and melodies, what could possibly go wrong?  Little or no promotion from the record company I suppose.  Anyway, I liked them.  Best songs – the title track and ‘Defenceless’ and best of all ‘Magic Man’.

Two Way Street – namechecked once by Bowie, but otherwise I wouldn’t have heard of them.  Just the one album ‘Grow Your own Planet (1991) and the band was no more.  Oh well.   I bought the record, and quite liked it.  A very original sound, which unfortunately found little favour with the general public.  Oh well – best songs – ‘Mrs Washington’ and ‘This bloody England’.

T(yranosaurus) Rex – I first heard them in the late Sixties, when it was just Marc Bolan and Steve Took, singing quite quaint folk ditties.  Then Marc discovered (or invented) Glam Rock.  The rest is (actually, quite a short-lived) history.  Many huge hits before the records all started to sound much the same.  Born to Boogie one of the many Greatest Hits compilations – contains, amongst others, such classics as ‘Get It On’ and ‘Ride A White Swan’ but also some of the early stuff ‘Debra’ and ‘Beltane Walk’   Marc died tragically in a Mini as it hit a tree.  But actually his career was already dying, as the songs were becoming repetitious and boring and the fans moved on to the next sensation.  ‘Trecstasy’ has over. 

My Record Collection 200

K.T. Tunstall – A Scottish singer songwriter from this century would you believe).  Born in 1975, but with a very classical rock sound, although a very competent singer and guitarist and songwriter.  She came to fame in 2004 with the release of her debut Eye To The Telescope.  A very competent debut album, it sounds as if she has been around forever; her songs are pretty timeless and she has a great voice.  Best tracks  – ‘Other side of The World’, ’Silent Sea’ and ‘Suddenly I See’.  She followed this with Drastic Plastic (2007) -another very good album.  What cn you say – good songs and well sung and played.  In some ways the album is even better than her first – a bit more varied.  Best soings – ‘If Only’, ‘Saving Face’ and ‘Paper Aeroplanes Difficulty’, .  Her third, but my latest was Tiger Suit (20101).  Another accomplished album – but somehow I was tiring of her songs…oh well.  Best are ‘Difficulty’, ‘Glamour Puss’ and ‘Golden frames.The Turtles – An American late 60s group, who to some degree emulated the Beatles and The Byrds (by softening up Dylan songs).  Gifted with two singer-songwriters in Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman who crafted perfect pop songs and sumptuous harmonies – I loved them.  I had heard a couple of hits and bought their third album in 1968 – The Battle Of The Bands – where the boys presented a fake talent show, appearing as 12 different groups in 12 styles.  A superb album; the group always had a penchant for humour (see later) and brought this out particularly on this record.  Favourite tracks among a brilliant 12 are, of course, ‘Elenore’, ‘Oh Daddy’ and best of all ‘Food’ (I mean, really) – it sounds as if they were having a ball making this album.  The band fell into huge difficulties with White Whale, their record company and many of their albums were unavailable for a few years and never released on CD.  But Rhino Records now owns the copywrite and released a 5 album box set of practically everything the band recorded, called 30 Years Of Rock and Roll – though the band were only recording for about five years – (more later).  First up is entitled Eve Of Destruction – (from the Barry MacGuire song, the boys recorded in their own half cheerful way (hard to imagine, but it works).  A great selection – I particularly like ‘Grim Reaper of Love’, ‘If We Only Had The Time (later re-recorded by Flo and Eddie {see F} who are Mark and Howard – confused – you will be) and ‘House On The Hill’.  The second is entitled Elenore – and leads with that classic, also includes ‘You Baby’ and a brilliant rendition of Dylan’s ‘Love Minus Zero – No Limit’ – and the great environmental classic (50 years before it’s time) ‘Earth Anthem’ – another great album.  Third is called She’s My Girl – which was another huge single for them.  Best songs are – ‘Sound Asleep‘. ‘Glitter and Gold’ and ‘Goodbye Surprise’ (another song recorded later by Flo and Eddie).  CD number 4 is Let Me Be, featuring their biggest single ‘Happy Together’ along with ‘Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret’ and ‘Hot Little Hands’, and a not bad version of Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’. The last CD is The Story Of Rock And Roll – with the brilliant ‘You Showed Me’, ‘Dance This Dance With Me’ and ‘It Aint Me Babe’ – another Dylan classic.   Before the band broke up, mainly because of contractual problems with their record label they recorded a handful of tracks for a new album they wanted to call Wooden Head in 1970.  The album never got released but Rhino Records have obtained the tapes and put out an album of the same name in the last few years.  Adding an assortment of other tracks, it is a double album.  Another very pleasant record – best songs are probably ‘I Can’t Stop’, ‘I Get Out Of Breath’ and ‘The Wandering Kind’.  The extra ‘bonus disc’ is mainly slightly different singles versions of earlier songs.  I also, of course have the Greatest Hits (one of many compilations) with all their singles and a few other classic songs. My favourite is ‘Lady O’, written by Judee Sill, who at that time was unknown and unrecorded – this song recorded by The Turtles, helped her get a record deal.  I also have a much later live recording, by Mark and Howard and a new band called Captured Live (still retaining the Turtles moniker). The duo had, via a stint with Frank Zappa, morphed into Flo and Eddie (see F), releasing 4 albums in the mis Seventies.  This album mixes 8 Flo and Eddie songs with 10 Turtles classics.  I prefer the originals

The turtles band hi-res stock photography and images - Alamy

My Record Collection 199

Travis – were a short-lived hit in the late 90s – though they are still going and releasing albums, their popularity stems mostly from the big hit single ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’ (1999).  Their songs and sound are (more or less) timeless and could have featured anytime since the early Seventies.  I only have 2 CDs – The Man Who – 1999 is the first and by far their biggest seller.  This is one of those albums you cannot really fault, the vocal harmonies are sumptuous and the songs particularly good.  Of course the big hit and ‘Turn’ and ‘Driftwood’ were singles, but there isn’t a bad song on the album.   I also nabbed from a charity shop one of those free CDs they give away with Sunday Newspapers.  It is actually quite good – live versions of ‘Rain’ and ‘Turn’ and a few I didn’t know – but actually I was never really a fan.

Jethro Tull – named after the agricultural inventor of the 18th Century this band was famous for lead singer Ian Anderson, flautist extraordinaire and main songwriter for the band, whose members changed occasionally.  I saw them a few times in the early Seventies and they were always brilliant – a strange mixture of sometimes quite heavy rock and pastoral classicism.  First up is a double CD of their first album – This Was (1968).  I went back to find this album after buying Thick As A Brick – (1972, the best of years). Well, I was not too impressed by this debut – no coherent sort of sound, just a jumble really – it still makes little impression on these poor uneducated ears.  Much better, of course was the brilliant masterpiece that was Thick As A Brick.  As well as being one long piece, simply divided to fit on both sides of a vinyl album – it is a comical conceit.  Musically it is superb with several ‘Movements’ and a recurrent motif or two threaded in.  It was apparently meant as a parody of the ‘Concept album’ and purported to be a poem written by 12 year old Gerald Bostock.  It came, such was the lunacy of record companies back then, as a fictional 12 page local newspaper, featuring a front page story about young Gerald, along with many other ridiculous stories and even football scores – a continuing joke was the existence of a non-rabbit.  Anyway, I loved it, the whole idea but especially the music itself.  There are no real tracks, but you have to listen to the whole thing, and it is simply a work of art.  Minstrel In The Gallery (1975) is my next album, and a more lyrical album.  The title track is almost medieval in it’s sound, but the star of the album is ‘Baker Street Muse’ – the lyrics escape me, but I like the playing.  Anderson seems to switch so easily between a pretty heavy full on rock sound and gentle flute-led melodies.  I can only think of early Genesis (see G) as a comparison really.  I also really like the sad and haunting ‘Requiem’.  Next up is the brilliant Songs From The Wood album (1977).  Remember at this time, ‘punk’ was all the rage and threatening to blow these old rock dinosaurs out of the water – well, most of them are still going strong.   Again a more folky album really, with occasional bursts of exuberance.  Best are the title track and ‘The Whistler’ and ‘Ring Out Solstice Bells’  A lovely record.  My last studio album is the equally good Heavy Horses (1978).   Again an excellent title track.  I also like ‘No Lullaby’ and ‘One Brown Mouse’.  I have no idea why I haven’t carried on collecting Tull albums -maybe they all started to sound similar….anyway.  I do also have the obligatory Very Best Of.   All the big hits are here…’Aqualung’, ‘Too Old To Rock and Roll’ and ‘Locomotive Breath’ among others. A very individual band, the likes of which we will never see again.