My Record Collection 207

Roger Waters – The main writer, after Syd’s demise, in Pink Floyd (see P) Roger was writing more and more deranged and vituperative songs.  After The Wall, which just about hung to its sanity, he came up with the dire The Final Cut – which was the final cut the quartet made.  His first solo album The Pros and Cons Of Hitchhiking (1984) was probably intended as a Floyd album, but the band had had enough of him, or vice versa and it ended up being a Roger Waters solo record.   I have never understood this record, and it is a it hysterical in places…I wonder what Pink Floyd would have ever made of it.  One or two half decent songs; the title track and ‘DunRoamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin’ and ‘In Every Stranger’s Eyes’.  But really a rather demented record.  Much better, and indeed – by far his best was 1987’s Radio Kaos.  Another concept album, purporting to be a radio station in L. A. with a Welsh disabled kid on a phone in.  However the story doesn’t really concern me – but the songs are much better, and stand on their own.  ‘Radio Waves’ opens the album and is a great snappy rock tune.  Other favourites are ‘Who Needs Information’ and ‘The Tide Is Turning’.  Best is ‘Sunset Strip’ with its chorus about Wales …. a blood red dragon on a field of green.  Of course, being Roger, the songs are pretty political, but they are actually really good and more commercial songs.   Roger has always traded on his and Pink’s past.  In 1990 he released The Wall Live In Berlin.  A slightly expanded version but featuring a host of guest singers including Joni and Van Morrison.  The Wall was now the Berlin wall of course.  A nice reminder of his finest moment.  Amused to Death came out in 1992.  A record I have never really liked, it seems overblown and boring and the songs ramble without focus.  Then a very long silence while Roger toured various old Floyd albums.  In 2017 he reeased only his fourth solo album Is This The Life That We Really Want. Well, surprisingly it is actually quite good, musically anyway – a few more modern beats rather than power chords and shouting.  Best are ‘Broken Bones’, the title track and ‘The Most Beautiful Girl’.  I also have a live album In The Flesh (2000) – at least half the songs are Pink Floyd, though done really well, and of those most from The Wall and Dark Side.  Not a bad listen.

Way Beyond Nashville This is another of those compilations, that promise much and deliver little.  Apart form a track by Steve Earle – nothing great.

My Record Collection 206

Jennifer Warnes – famous for being more than just a backing singer with Leonard Cohen in the Seventies, she has had a sporadic solo career.  She release 4 albums in the late Sixties and Early Seventies, which were compiled into a 1992 album Just Jennifer –  not much to say about this, pleasant songs and a lot of cover versions, her voice is pretty soft and subtle, and doesn’t really do justice to most of this material.   Although her rendition of ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ and ‘Just Like Tom Thumb Blues’ are quite good.   In 1979 ahe released my favourite album of hers Shot Though The Heart – with a great cover too.  Well, this album is such a favourite; I played it non-stop for weeks back in the day.  I especially love the title track ‘Shot Through The Heart’ (there goes the gunman) followed by ‘I Know A Heartache When I See One’, but the best was ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ (a Baccharach/David song) and a great version of Dylan’s ‘Sign On The Window’.  The whole album just seems to roll along.  Brilliant.  Almost as good, and again a real departure was this almost collaboration with Leonard Cohen, with whom she had sung in the studio and on tour.  It included two, at that time, unrelease Cohen songs, which I think Jennifer recorded at least as well as Cohen himself.  They also collaborated in the writing of ‘Song Of Bernadette’ – a highlight of this album Famous Blue Raincoat (1986).  My favourites are probably the title track, ‘Came So Far For Beauty’ and ‘Ballad of The Runaway Mare’….but who can fault the splendid duet ‘Joan Of Arc’, here Jennifer  is Joan and Leonard the fire.  Wow.   I mwntioned before that Jennifer is only a sporadic album  maker and it was only 1992 that saw her next effort – The Hunter.  Well, after those two incredible albums it must have been hard to come up with a third, and so it turned out.  Overall, a disappointing album I am afraid.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I was under awed.  Reading the extensive credits of both performers and producers it is no  wonder.  The album sounds over-produced and overworked and lacking in any identity.   Or maybe I am being a bit harsh; re-listening, the album is not so bad – just not as brilliant as I fel it might have been.  Maybe it is the song choices, best are ‘Rock Me Gently’ and ‘The Lights Of Luisiana’.  I also have a best of – which tanspires to be taken from just 2 albums; Jennifer seemed to be any quite a few different labels in her career. Still, not a bad selection – except of course, no ‘Up Here Where We Belong’.   A bit of a wasted talent in some ways – but still two brilliant albums is better than most.

The Waterboys – an Irish band, led by Mike Scott (see S).  Their biggest selling album was Fisherman’s Blues 1988 – Actually, the only one of theirs I own.  And it is pretty damn good.  With this album, they apparently re-discovered their Irish roots.  Musically, it is quite folky, with fiddles and acoustic instruments.  The songs are, of course, what makes the album so good.  The iconic ‘Whole of The Moon’ is great, as is ‘When Will We Be Married’ and ‘A Bang On The Ear’.  But somehow the record, too long, tires as it goes on. 

JENNIFER WARNES ~ Famous Blue Raincoat ~

My Record Collection 205

Scott Walker – famous in the Sixties as half of The Walker Brothers, who had a few hits with ballads.  Well, Scott is still writing and singing, but a million miles away from the Sixties.  In fact, very modern and almost unlistenable songs (where exactly is the melody?) – although the voice is still superb.  Only one album Tilt. Only one song I almost like ‘Farmer In The City’.

Joe Walsh – Famously joined the Eagles in late Seventies, and had one great hit solo before that ‘Life’s Been Good’.  He started off with a band, The James Gang in the early Seventies.  I have a best of James Gang and Joe Walsh – though, no big hit.  Not a bad record, but it doesn’t really grab me. 

WAR CHILD – 2 free Cds given away with The Independent.  Cd1 was more conventional songs by Coldplay, McCartney and a few others.  Best was ‘Vietnem’ by New Order.  Cd2 was more dance oriented and featured Massive Attack and Faithless as well as Magic Numbers and Starsailor.  Both highly enjoyable but hardly essentialClifford T.Ward – A truly gentle soul with the voice of an angel.  He was a teacher but played guitar and wrote songs and in the early Seventies tried to make it – which he did for a while.  With a faithful band of fans he released several albums and had a handful of hits before a progressive MS finally claimed him in 2001.  His debut Singer Songwriter came out in 1972.   A bit naïve and one feels he was a bit too tentative – still I particularly like ‘A Dream’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Circus Girl’.   1973 saw probably his best album, the glorious Home Thought From Abroad – the centre-piece of which is the title song, a pean to his old girlfriend, which quotes from a poem by Robert Browning; it is a very poignant song.  But the lead-off song is his biggest hit single – the sumptuous ‘Gaye’.  There is barely a poor song here; my other favourites being ‘The Open University’, ‘Time, The Magician’ and ‘Where Would That Leave Me’.   The songs are timeless with gorgeous melodies and mostly orchestral arrangements; in some ways they are quite middle of the road but are saved from being mawkish by Clifford’s hauntingly beautiful voice.  A triumph.   Nearly as good was his third Mantle Pieces, also 1973.  Some delightful songs – the excellent single ‘Scullery’, the poignant Sylvia Plath inspired ‘Waving Not Drowning’ and the humorous but sad ‘To An Air Hostess’ among others.   Escalator followed in 1975, and included ‘Jigsaw Girl’, ‘We Could be Talking’ and ‘A Sad Affair’.  I did buy his next 4 albums on vinyl, but they are all quite expensive now, if available at all, on CD.  A pity, as I really loved them.  I do have a very late release Bittersweet (1999) when poor Clifford was by then unable to walk or talk or record.  Some nice alternate versions of some of his songs and the lovely ‘Jayne From Andromeda Spiral’.  A nice collection but for real fans only.  Best was a compilation Gaye and other Stories (1990) – a real best of.  Faves are all the early songs – but also ‘A  Minor’.  A lovely gentle man, a real inspiration to us all

My Record Collection 204

The Velvet Underground – a late Sixties band, famous for collaborations withNico, a German singer and the artist Andy Warhol.   Most of the songs were written by Lou Reed (see R) and John Cale.  Not sure if I really like them – one or two great songs but a lot of experimental noise too.  Two albums – the first, the famous banana cover – The Velvet underground and Nico (1967), which I bought much later.   Best songs are ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Heroin’ and ‘I’m Waiting For My Man’.   I also have The Best Of….again a mix of gentle songs and very fast noisy stuff.  Best are ‘Stephanie Says’. I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and ‘All Tomorrows Parties’.

The Wainwrights – Loudon Wainwright the Third – An American singer-songwriter who wrote often funny, but sometimes poignant songs, mostly to a simple acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment.  He released many albums during the last five decades, many songs are about his life and children.  I only have a greatest hits One Man Guy and it is very entertaining and quite listenable, at least for a while.  Best songs are ‘Your Mother and I’ (a sad song about divorce, written to his children), ‘Not John’ (about Lennon’s murder) and ‘Unhappy Anniversary’.  He is also famous for marrying Kate McGarrigle (see M) a singer herself; together before their divorce they had two children Rufus and Martha, who both became singers too.

Martha Wainwright – has released about seven albums, though I only have her self-titled debut Martha Wainwright (2005), which is a shame as this record is excellent – my only defence is that there really are so many great artists that I cannot buy everything by all of them – though I have had a bloody good try.  Anyway, the album – pretty good, especially ‘Factory To Factory’ – though a little bit shouty on occasion; she is much better on gentler stuff like ‘Far Away’ and ‘Whither Must I Wander’.

Rufus Wainwright – Older brother of Martha, and owner of a heart-rending and individualistic voice.  I collected him for a while, but then, like so many others, I grew tired of him.   First – his debut, entitled Rufus Wainwright. (1998).  All the components were there already, that swooping and soaring voice, the passionate expression and quite good songs; ‘In My Arms’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Damned Ladies’ especially good.  His follow-up Poses (2001) was even better, at least the songs were better formed and more memorable – best were ‘Cigarettes and ‘Chocolate’ which is reprieved at the end of the album as well as opening it – ‘California’ (not the Joni classic) and a great version of his father’s song ‘One Man Guy’ (with a different meaning as Rufus is as gay as you like.  A really nice record – but then came 2003’s Want One – (sold later as a double with Want Two.  This, for me, was THE album.  You can almost, but not quite forget the rest – here he achieved perfection.  Opener ‘Oh What A World’ sets the scene – what a great song; and it continues with ‘Movies Of Myself’ and ‘Harvester of Hearts’ but best is the magnificent ‘Go Or Go Ahead’.  A brilliant album.   He followed this a year later with Want Two.  Not quite so good, though not at all bad.  Best songs are ‘Agnus Dei’, ‘Gay Messiah’ and Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel’.   2007 saw Release The Stars – a much better album really.   I particularly like ‘Do I Disappoint You’, ‘Rules and Regulations and ‘Sansoucci’.  But I was very disappointed with his next album – All Days Are Nights – Songs For Lulu.  It just seemed a dreary wail to my poor ears.  Oh well.  I stopped buying him after this – fickle?

Rufus Wainwright and mother Kate McGarrigle