All posts by adrian

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

My Record Collection 203

The Undertones – Apparently one of John Peel’s very favourite bands.  They formed in Derry in ’74 and were distinct from punk bands because they were actually very very good, even if they shared their excitement and back to basics sound.  I just have a greatest hits album Teenage Kicks, which is probably their best song, but I also like ‘My Cousin’ and ‘Positive Touch’.  Thier most famous member was the singer Feargal Sharkey, whose distinctive vocals dominate.  He went on to a short solo career and is now an environmental campaigner. 

Vanilla Fudge – One of the seminal 60’s rock bands, who were famous for slowed down re-interpretations of classic songs of their era.  Two of their members Bogart and Appice went on to form Beck, Bogart and Appice in the early 70’s and later became session players for many famous artists. I only have a live album Best Of Vanilla Fudge – Live.  A great set including ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’ by the Beatles and ‘You Keep me Hanging On’ and ‘People Get Ready’ – both great soul classics. 

Vanity Fair (music from) – composed by Murray Gold for a nineties BBC adaptation of one of my favourite Victorian Novels, the music is varied and incredible with great swoops of brass intermingled with quiet strings.  Not everyone’s tasse du the I am sure, but I really like it.

Van Morrison – Though an undoubted Legend, I’ve never been that bowled over by him.  He was of course, the voice of Them – a sixties band.  In the late 60’s he decamped to America and had a string of solo albums.  He is famously difficult to work with.  I only have two albums – Astral Weeks(1968) – Many fans think this one of his best albums, but it leaves me flat.  I like Madame George, mainly because of Marianne Faithfull’s version (see F), and Cypress Avenue is okay…but the rest, not really impressed.  I do have a (sort of) greatest hits, courtesy of a giveaway from The Sun  – Brown-Eyed Girl.   And you have to admit that that song is rather catchy; it is actually one of the most played songs on the radio.  The other tracks are just jazzy live stuff….not worth listening to.

Townes van Zant  – I don’t know much about him, except that he was a brilliant songwriter, who never achieved much recognition.  I first heard his songs sung by Steve Earl (see E).  Just one album My Mother The Mountain.  He reminds me somewhat of Hank Williams, singing very sad but timeless songs.  Best of which are  ‘Lefty and Pancho’, ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Tecunseh Valley’.  Like Hank he died pretty young too.

Suzanne Vega – Always on the lookout for female singer songwriters, how could I miss Suzanne, who burst on the scene with her acoustic guitar and haunting voice, and very poignant songs.  Her self-titles debut in 1985 was incredibly well received.  Every song seems just right, from ‘Cracking’ to ‘Neighbourhood Girls’ it seems perfectly formed.   A very stripped back sound which allows her voice to rise above the music – especially on the best track – ‘Marlena On The Wall’.  She followed this with maybe her best album Solitude Standing (1987).  This was her breakthrough album and contained possibly her two best known songs; ‘Tom’s Diner’ and ‘Luka’ – but all the songs are good; especially ‘Night Vison’.   Her third was Days Of Open Hand (1990).  Taking a little bit of time between albums she seemed to hone the songs down.   Best are ‘Tired Of Sleeping’ and ‘Men In A War’.    1992 saw a new album 99.9F.   Again,hard to fault her; in fact this may be her most consistent record; best tracks are ‘Blood Makes Noise’, ‘In Liverpool’ and ‘When Heroes Go Down’.   A change of style, as she was now having a more ‘produced’ sound and more instrumentation.  My last, but not hers was 9 Objects of Desire (1996).  Well, this is far more like most other people’s albums, production-wise.  In fact, it sound overproduced to me.  I can’t say this is a favourite of mine, and compared to the previous four, I think she lost direction.  Still, ’No Cheap Thrill’ and ‘World Before Columbus’ aren’t bad at all.

My Record Collection 202

U2 – I had heard of them; a former partner had 1 album – but I really woke up at Live Aid when they played a scintillating set.   First up is their debut album BOY (1980) – a very guitar driven album, where it takes a few listens to distinguish individual songs. Best are ‘I Will Follow’, ‘Into The Heart’ and ‘Out Of Control’.  A great start.  I then picked up again with The Joshua Tree (1987).  What an album – possibly their best, certainly their most popular.  Chock full of great songs – the band were in fire.  My favourites are probably ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, ‘With Or Without You’ and ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ – but ask me on another day and it might be different.  So, the perennial problem – how to follow that.  They managed it, and in style.  They released a double album, half live, half new songs called Rattle and Hum (1988).  In some ways it is even better than Joshua Tree, though like all double albums, maybe too long.  Featuring duets with Dylan and B.B. King and some cracking live performances of ‘Helter Skelter’ (Beatles) and ‘Star Spangled Banner’ (Hendrix version) the live songs are simply brilliant ‘Silver and Gold’ and ‘Pride In The Name Of Love’ especially.  But the studio songs are excellent too – ‘Desire’, ‘When Love Comes To Town’ and ‘Angel of Harlem’ in particular sparkle.  A three-year break before their next re-invention Achtung Baby (1991).  The boys started to combine industrial rock and electronic beats into their already pretty dense sound.  The result is, in my opinion, a bit mixed.  Sometimes listening to it, it is just a noise, but then there are some very good melodies and singing in it too.  Best are ‘One’, ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’ and ‘Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World’.   As the Nineties progressed the band struggled to define their identity, between their signature sound and the new heavier electronic music of Achtung Baby.  I missed out on Zooropa but bought Pop (1997).  The band were now using a combination of new young producers, trying to define their new direction.  The album was apparently rushed out just before a tour and the band were unhappy with it.  Personally, I’ve never liked the album, it seems a mess and the sound is far too crowded.  The only song that I like even half decently is ‘Discotheque’ though I have no idea what Bono is singing about.  All that You Can’t leave Behind came out in 2000 – and it was as if the old band was suddenly back after a missing decade.  Reuniting with producers Daniel Lanois (see L) and Eno the band came up with some great songs – and most importantly they sounded like U2.  Why they wanted to completely change this unique sound is beyond me.  Anyway, best songs are ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of’ and ‘Walk On’ – though there is not a weak song here.  A brilliant return to form.   2004 saw How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.   Well, I sort of liked this one, but felt they were treading water somewhat.  The songs were okay but not essential.  Best were ‘’Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’ and ‘City Of Blinding Lights’.  My last by this extraordinary band is 2014’s Songs Of Innocence.  Ever looking for something new, they released the album on i-tunes for free for a few weeks before a physical CD emerged (making this, at 500 million possible customers, the biggest record release of all time).  A nice record, but not at all their best.  Still, I quite like ‘The Miracle’ and ‘Sleep Like A Baby Tonight’ and I cannot really recall the others in much detail.  The CD came with analogue versions of all the songs, much like demo’s – which added nothing to the CD except cost to the buyer.  Of course, I bought the excellent 2 major compilations – Greatest Hits 1980-1990 – which was their best period.  Brilliant songs such as ‘Pride In The Name Of love’, ‘New Year’s Day’, ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ plus lots from Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum make this a true best ever of.  It came as a double with best of ‘B’ sides, not that they did much for me except just sound like all the other U2 songs without the rousing choruses. The companion piece Greatest Hits 1990 – 2000 is still excellent though.  Best songs ‘Mysterious Ways’, ‘Stuck In a Moment’ and ’Numb’.   Only one other, a freebie given away with Sunday Times – though why a band like U2 need to do this I have no idea.   Still, there is no denying they are one of the great British bands of all time.


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.

My Record Collection 198

Traffic – Were an English ‘pop’ group formed in 1967 and featuring Steve Winwood (see W) as lead singer.  They had a handful of hit singles, which as was the custom then, mostly didn’t appear on albums.  I loved them, as they seemed to encapsulate the Summer of Love.  First album was Mr. Fantasy (1967) – a bit too poppy really, ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ was wonderful, as was ‘Coloured Rain’ and ‘No Face, No Name, No Number.’ – a pretty good debut.   Their second, Traffic (1968), was a bit more varied, jazzy in places, it featured – ‘Feelin Alright’, ‘Pearly Queen’ and ‘Forty Thousand Headmen’ – not quite as good as their debut really.  Their fourth, but my third was John Barleycorn Must Die (1970).  Despite the title and the cover this is not a folk album, although the title song is – more or less.  The record is quite jazz-infused and  not my favourite, apart from ‘Freedom Rider’ I don’t really like it that much.  Quite a bit better was the generally mellow Low Spark Of High-heeled Boys (1971) – a strange title but the song of that name, though overlong is pretty good.  I also like ‘Rock And Roll Stew’  and ‘Rainmaker’.  Not sure exactly where the band was heading, having discarded the pop singles and settling into a bluesy and jazzy groove.  My last studio album is Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (1973) not so bad really – best are the title track and Evening Blue…I also have a live album Welcome To The Canteen (1971) – which is excellent.  It actually has 2 Chris Mason songs; he was an occasional member of the band, which were never on Traffic albums – and a great version of Steve Winwood’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin’, which was a Spencer Davis Group song, his former band.  Despite that the performance seems inspired.  Best are ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and ‘Medicated Goo’.   A strange band, which maybe never quite reached their potential, at least on albums – but part of the brilliant late 60’s, early 70’s development of British music.  I also have Collection – a best of – which includes most of their singles – ‘Hole In My Shoe’, ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’ and ‘Mulberry Bush’ (I danced to this with Jane Sarginson back in ’67 – whirling her round and round – but despite my best efforts she never wanted to be my girlfriend).

The Travelling Wilburys – A fantastic and maybe the best-ever Supergroup.  All were huge stars in their own right – George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Geoff Lynne and of course Dylan.  The story is that the band came together by accident to record a projected ‘B’ side for a George single.  But I suspect there was a little more to it than that.   Anyway, however it happened the first album Travelling Wilburys Volume 1 – was an instant success; the identities of the ‘Wilburys’ soon becoming an open secret.  The lead single, and the song that brought the band together – a George composition was ‘Handle With Care’ – apparently named after a label on a packing case in Dylan’s garage – is possibly their best, although almost all the songs are brilliant.  Favourites are – ‘End Of The Line’, ‘Rattled’ and ‘Last Night’.  A delight of a record – and a big hit.  Sadly, Roy Orbison died in late 1989 – which put the idea of a follow-up on hold.  There were also tentative plans for a tour – but Dylan and Petty were pretty heavily booked so that never happened.  They did consider a replacement for Roy, and Del Shannon was in the frame for a while – but he too passed away.  The four remaining members did get back together again 2 years later.  A second album, cryptically titled Volume 3 came out in 1990.  It did contain some pretty good songs and the magic was still there – almost.  It wasn’t quite such a hit and there are a couple of fillers.  The band miss Roy’s soaring vocals, and Dylan’s vocals tend to dominate.  Still, by anyone else’s standards it would have been a pretty good album.  Best tracks are probably – ‘Where Were You Last Night’ and ‘Cool Dry Place’.  The not really a group stopped there which may be a good thing.  At least we have these two albums to remember them by.


My Record Collection 197

Tin Machine – not sure if this should be separate, as it is Bowie really.  After a couple of poor albums in the Eighties David decided to once more change direction.  He now formed a band – Tin Machine – he was of course lead singer and they played his songs in a fairly power rock way.  They wore black suits and looked cool, but the songs seemed uninspired mostly.  Tin Machine 1 (1989)  was released to much press interest.  I bought it and quite liked some songs – best were ‘Heavens In Here’, ‘Prisoner Of Your Love’ and a cover of Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’.  I did buy Tin Machine 2 – but don’t have it on CD.  One live album ‘Oy Vey Baby’ (1992) released just as Bowie was saying goodbye to his erstwhile sidesmen and going solo again.   A bit raucous and not sure I like it – best tracks are ‘Goodbye Mr, Ed’ and ‘Amazing’.  Still at the end of the day it is Bowie.

Martina Topley-Bird – Every so often the music press introduces the next big thing; Martina was one of them.  I bought her album; Quixotic.  Well, it did nothing for me, and after repeated listenings, it still doesn’t.  A pity, as she has a nice voice and the album is varied in pace – it is simply boring, and doesn’t move me at all, except to look at my watch to see how soon it ends.

William Topley – I was most enthralled with an album by The Blessing – Prince Of The Deep Water (1991 – See B).  The Lead singer, with a remarkable voice was William Topley.  He has released a clutch of albums.  I only own one – 2002’s Feasting With Panthers.  Well, the voice is still there – a deep baritone – but sadly the songs aren’t.   In fact, I cannot remember a single song when I have just played it…oh well.

Pete Townshend – The major songwriter and lead guitarist for the Who (see W).  What can you say about this, except that he is a genius – if an occasionally flawed one.   He was incredibly prolific and would demo most of the songs the band eventually recorded – lots didn’t make it onto records.  I did have 2 cassettes of these ‘rejects’ called Scoop and Another Scoop and a couple of his solo albums; so far not bought on CD.  His first solo outing was cleverly entitled Who Came First and though far from the bombastic rock of The Who, I loved it.   The record was dedicated to Pete’s Religious Leader, Meher Baba – an Indian mystic and even includes Pete singing ‘There’s A Heartache Following Me’ – a 60’s hit for Jim Reeves, because it was a favourite of Meher’s.  Pete had been working on a new concept after Tommy – The Lifehouse – which was confusingly to be a film, a collection of songs and even a ‘happening’ – based on redemption through music.  Lifehouse came to no real fruition but many of the songs became the basis for ‘Who’s Next’.  Some of the ideas from Lifehouse and a few songs found their way onto this mixed bag of an album, which somehow hangs together by Pete’s singing and playing almost all the instruments on many tracks.  We kick off with ‘Pure and Easy’ – a wonderful song – then a duet with Ronnie Lane on ‘Evolution’ (a Lane song). I cannot really fault the album, even the two heavily religious closers – ‘Content’ and ‘Parvadigar’.  Possibly my favourites are ‘Time Is Passing’ and ‘Sheraton Gibson’.  I also have a rarity, a 6 CD boxset, a 50th birthday present from a friend – The Lifehouse Chronicles (2000). The last 2 CDs are a radio play based on Pete’s Lifehouse writings – but the first 4 are demo’s and later work, all based on the Lifehouse.   Disc 1 – is maybe the best, as it features several early versions of my favourite Who album ‘Who’s Next’.  There are also a few other major Who songs on this, including ‘Music Must Change’ and ‘Sister Disco’ – which I believe didn’t become Who songs until Face Dances, over a decade later.   Disc 2 – is similar – best here are; ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, ‘Who Are You’ and ‘The Song Is Over’.  Disc 3  – is sub-titled ‘Themes and Experiments’.  But is much the same as the first 2, except for a couple of live tracks including ‘Hinterland Rag’ and a new song ‘Can You Really Help The One You Love’.  Disc 4 is a classical album of music related to the radio play.

My Record Collection 196

Tanita Tikaram – I am always on the lookout for new girl singers, though not so much these days.  In 1988 Tanita emerged, fully formed, as the complete singer songwriter – she could have been straight out of the Seventies.  She released a brilliant debut album (possibly her best) produced by Pete Van Hooke and Rod Argent (who should know a thing or two).  A great lead-off folk-inspired ‘Good Tradition’ and a follow-up hit ‘Twist In My Sobriety’ but really every song is good; faves are ‘Cathedral Song’, ‘World Outside Your Window’ and ‘Sighing innocents’.  She seemed to combine a sultry quite deep voice with sensitive intelligent and quirky lyrics.  Loved it instantly.  The follow-up, 1990’s Sweet Keeper was another excellent record, if slightly less commercial than her debut.  More of a classical feel to this one with the addition of strings and some slower songs where her voice really dominates the song.  Best are ‘Once and Not Speak’, ‘We Almost Got It Together’ and ‘Little Sister leaving Town’.  Her third was Everybody’s Angel; the cover with her short hair seems to portend a more grown-up album. Although the album sold less well, I really loved this one – I felt she had found her style with this one; gone are the poppy tunes, except for one old song ‘Hot Pork Sandwiches’ but Tanita seems to be following her sadness and sorrows, a bit like her heroes – Leonard and Joni.  She co-produced a few of the songs on this one and even had Jennifer Warnes (see W) harmonising on a couple.  Best are ‘Only The Ones We Love’, ‘To Wish This’ and ‘Mud In Any Water’.  1992’s Eleven Kinds Of Loneliness was a bit of a flop, though I quite liked it, or at least some of it.  There are a handful of very good songs – ‘You Make The Whole World Cry’, ‘To Drink The Rainbow’ and ‘Love Don’t Need No Tyranny’ – but much of the rest just passes me by.  All a bit boring I am afraid.   Three years passed until her fifth – Lovers In The City.  A lovely cover but not such a lovely album.  It seems that Tanita was losing her way; not sure whether to chase that elusive pop stardom or to chronicle the ways of love.  Lead single ‘I Might Be Crying’ has that familiar ring to it and should have been a hit – but in the way of these things Tanita’s 15 minutes of fame had long passed – though I liked the song.  I preferred the album to the last one, especially ‘Feeding The Witches’, the title song and ‘Happy Taxi’.   A change of direction was maybe needed.  And her next 1998’s The Cappuccino Songs’ went some way towards that.  A new record label (falling sales) but a new producer too – Marco Sabiu – who brought a more nuanced feel, brighter instrumentation and a more latin feel to some of the songs, which were by no means poor.  Best were – ‘Stop Listening’, ‘I Don’t Want To Lose At Love’ and ‘If Ever’.  A much better record all round.   Seven years before her next – Sentimental – and a closer, more intimate, piano led album.  The vocals seem warmer and right in your ear – the songs are generally slow and the whole record is almost one piece.   Best are ‘Don’t Let The Cold’ a slightly up-tempo duet with Nick Lowe and ‘Every day Is New’.   Another seven years (what do they do with all those years?) before her next album; 2012’s Can’t Go Back, a much more rounded and dare I say, commercial sounding record.  New producer again and a more contemporary almost Americana feel.  The album sold a bit better too, though she remains an acquired taste really.  Best songs are ‘All Things To You’, ‘Dust On My Shoe’ and ‘One Kiss’.  Altogether a really pleasant album.   I got the deluxe version with an extra CD of acoustic versions of some of her earlier songs – which are really quite good.  Her last album (so far) was in 2016 – Closer To The People – This was a bit of a disappointment; a slightly bluesy but almost nondescript collection of songs.  Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot get into this record at all.  And after this, so far nothing.  I have always felt that Tanita was a bit half-hearted about the whole enterprise – so maybe that will be it.  Still.  I also have a Best Of Tanita Tikaram, from the first few albums and very good it is too.

My Record Collection 195

Testifying is a compilation of American Country Soul artists.  Pretty interesting, but not at all an essential album.  I am not really sure how some of these tracks fall into the ‘country’ category, as they are more soul – still, some nice tracks -favourites are – ‘Jaguar man’ and ‘Sapelo’. 

Texas – are a Scottish band, formed in the late 80s.  lead singer Charlene Spiteiri has quite a distinctive rock voice.  I only have 2 albums, which happen to be their biggest sellers.  Southside (1989) was their debut, and achieved immediate success, reaching number 3 in the album charts.  Lead single ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’ was quite a big hit too.  My favourites are ’Every Day Now’ and  ‘Thrill has Gone’.  I also have the huge hit of 1997 White On Blonde.  A superb album, chock full of great songs and a unique feel as each song seems to naturally follow on; Charlene’s voice is particularly sultry and silky.  Best songs are ‘Postcards’, ‘Say What You Want’, Breathless’ and ‘Polo Mint City’ – but there is not a poor track on it.   Despite really enjoying the record I never felt the need to buy any others from this band.  It really is strange what makes me neglect some great artists and bands and yet have a burning desire to own everything by others.  Sometimes it truly is an obsession and I have no explanation or apology to make about it.

Thinkman – another in the almost never-ending collection of unknown artists.  Rupert Hine (see H) was originally a singer songwriter of obscure sounding songs in the Seventies, also a leading member of Quantum Jump (see Q) and a go-to producer in the Eighties and Nineties.  One of his many side projects was a band (really just him on all instruments) called Thinkman. I have just 2 of the 3 albums he released under this moniker before going back to his own name.  The Formula (1986) was the first under this umbrella.  Not such a great album; very eighties sound, too cluttered and I almost cannot hear the words.  Still as part of the Rupert collection, it has it’s place.  Life is A Fulltime Occupation (1988) – this is better, the production clearer and the sogs a bit more varied.  Best are ‘Watchman, Walkman, Thinkman’, ‘Bad Angel’ and ‘Dance Yourself Insane’.

Richard and Linda Thompson – folk guitarist and singer Richard was joined by his wife for this rarity I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight.  But I am afraid, that with a couple of exceptions I am not so fond of folk.  Best songs are the title track and ‘Withered and Died.’  For specialists only.

Tracy Thorn – One of my favourite band’s – ‘Everything But The Girl’ (see E) had stopped making albums a few years ago after a very successful handful of dance inspired records.  I hadn’t realised that Tracy (one half of the duo) had continued making the occasional foray into the music business.  She has a lovely languid voice and I found this double album on line a couple of years ago  – Solo, Songs and Collaborations 1982 – 2015.  Well, quite a revelation – I knew she had written several of the songs for EBTG, mostly in collaboration with Ben Watt, but she is a really sensitive songwriter.  The first album is from a handful of solo albums she has made.  Best are ‘Oh, The Divorces’, ‘Hands up To The Ceiling’ and ‘Singles bar’.  The second disc is her later dance music collaborations, famously with Massive Attack.  Of course, I love ‘Protection’ and ‘Better Things’ but I didn’t know most of the others; ‘Damage’, ‘Grand Canyon’ and ‘Yu Are A Lover’ especially resonate – though this album tends to be like most dance music and just becomes a pleasant background, and you miss the words.

Paul Tiernan – Paul played one night at Rupert’s pub Le Gambetta, and he was selling copies of his album which I bought – Belle.   I was really impressed, both by his accomplished finger-picking guitar work and his songs – though I suspect most of the other clients were a bit bored, preferring the raucous rock’n’roll of the regular singers.  I do like the album, even if it is a but samey – best tracks are the title track and closer ‘How To Say Goodbye’, and really all of it.  The record could have been made any time after 1970 I suppose – but actually 2004.  You wont find it on Spotify, that’s for sure.