Jools Holland – Famous for his late night live TV show, of which I have watched many; I only have one album Big Band Small World (2001) where the vocals are taken by a fabulous collection of artists including George Harrison, Sting, and Clapton – to name but a few. All are backed by Jools and his ‘Orchestra’, most songs are piano-led – and, as they say, a splendid time was guaranteed for all. This was picked up in one of my charity shop trawls. A nice album, but hardly essential. My favourite song may be the Beatles song Revolution sung by Stereophonics. Still.
The Housemartins – This was the band Paul Heaton was lead singer in before he formed The Beautiful South (see B). Only one album, a compilation of a few Housemartin tracks and slightly more ‘South’ ones. Only really notable song from the former is ‘Caravan Of Love’.
Janis Ian – When Alison deserted me in Crete, way back in the late 70’s she had left a single cassette at mine. One side had Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True (see C) on it and the other Between The Lines by Janis Ian. I played it to death then went out and bought the albums. Working backwards later I bought a compilation of Janis’s Sixties recordings – Society’s Child. Not a bad collection, though very few of the songs really stay in my brain that long. Then I bought Stars (1974). This was the Immmmediate predecessor to Between the Lines. Already her softer, almost whispered and hypnotic voice was here – her earlier style was far higher in pitch; now her voice is slow and seductive and immensely sad. Great stuff here, so many sad sad songs; this is true bedsit singer songwriter territory – and I loved it. Best song; the title track ‘Stars’, ‘The Man You Are In Me’ and ‘Jesse’. The following year and Janis released what most people consider her masterpiece, and is certainly my and most fans favourite album – Between The Lines. From the opening chords and words the album captivates and holds you close; it seems she is whispering into your ear, a confessional and at times desperately personal and intensely moving voice which seems to bore its way into your soul. The best known song is ‘At Seventeen’, the realisation of an ‘ugly’ girl who is left out by both boys and peers as well. Impossible not to sympathise, the words tear at your heart. But almost every song is moving and this is really a concept album as the feel of almost all the songs is steeped in sadness, even the cover shows an unsure hesitant unsmiling Janis. My favourite tracks among so many great songs are ‘Light a Light’, ‘Lover’s Lullaby’ and ‘Bright Lights and Promises’. But really it could have been any three of the 11 wonderful songs. This remains one of my enduring favourite ever albums…and not just because of Alison…. The next year’s offering Aftertones is still quite pleasant but doesn’t have the magic of Between The Lines. Still a pretty good record; the opening title track is silky smooth and gorgeous. Other good songs are ‘I would like to Dance’ and the haunting closer ‘Hymn’. I did buy a couple of other albums on vinyl but was generally disappointed and haven’t rushed to get more on CD