Andy White – another in the long list of ‘Artists Nobody Has Ever Heard Of’ – but why, when the boy is so original and brilliant – ah, maybe that’s the reason. A Belfast kid, he emerged in the mid-Eighties, though most of the albums I have are from this Century. He sings very autobiographical songs and sometimes simply recites the words in a Northern Irish accent, which I find most appealing. My first of his is from 1990 and called Himself. Some great songs and quite good music too – Andy has a unique voice and style that I find quite infectious and unaffected. Best songs are ‘In A Groovy Kind Of Way’, ‘The Guildford Four’ and ‘Pale Moonlight’ – but almost all the songs are great. My next is Out There 1992. Not quite so good, but not at all bad really. Fave tracks are ‘Palace Full of Noise’, ‘James Joyce Grave’ and of course ‘Speechless. Third up is Destination Beautiful (1994) – another very good album, which includes the great songs – ‘Street Scenes From My Heart’, ‘John’ ( a heartfelt pean to Lennon),’Many’s The Time’ and ‘The Government Of Love’. A very pleasant record. Speechless itself followed in 2000, and included new recordings of a couple of songs, especially the title track. Quite a long album, about 20 tracks, which makes it a tad tedious to listen right through. However, some pretty cool songs – ‘Religious Persuasion’, ‘Between A Man And A Woman’ and ‘Jacqui’ stand out. Next, I have his self-titled album Andy White (2000) – which seems strange given this was about his tenth solo album, but it is quite good anyway. Best are ‘Let Me be Free’, ‘Jesus In A Cadillac’ and ‘Coz I’m Free’. A true rare talent, who doesn’t seem at all affected by Fame or Fortune – just happy to continue writing and singing songs.
White Mansions (1978) – this was a concept album by Englishman Paul Kennerley. It is a story of the tragedy of the American Civil War, from the perspective of the defeated South. Wow, what an album – with a stellar cast of singers acting out the story in song. Every song is brilliant, almost impossible to name a favourite, but ‘Southern Boys’ rocks along, ‘Union Mare’ and ‘Confederate Grey’ is a poignant tale, and ‘The Southland’s Bleeding’ is fantastic. Written in a new Americana style, with a country twang, the whole album has to be listened to as a piece of work that is simply brilliant. Paul almost repeated the achievement two years later with The Legend Of Jesse James, which follows on historically from the defeat of the South. This record features Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris among others and is almost as good; though the story is more callous, you still feel sorry for Jesse. Best songs are ‘Heaven Aint Ready For You Yet’, ‘The Death Of Me’ and ‘One more Shot’. Johnny Cash’s voice dominates but this is again an ensemble piece and was released a double album with White Mansions in 1999. A unique little slice of American History on one CD. Great stuff.