It’s fair to say that most debut albums are one of two things: an outlet for blustering reserves of teenage angst, or else a resting place for a whole bunch of songs carefully knocked into shape through late adolescence. Issued in September 1984, ‘Dreamtime’ was neither. Not only had the two constituent parts of the Cult‘s songwriting axis – Ian Astbury (vocals) and Billy Duffy (guitar) – vented much of the teenage bile via their stints with Southern Death Cult and Theatre Of Hate (respectively), but ‘Dreamtime’ was conceived while the Cult were making a quantum leap forward in terms of the quality of their compositions.
I had no idea the Hurrah! release existed until recently, I found details on Discogs after playing their early Kitchenware label singles. I wondered if I’d missed anything back in the eighties.
“Way Ahead” is a bootleg live recording of the band’s gig at the Embassy Club, London on the 19th April 1985. Sound quality is decent but not spectacular. Probably recorded at the gig by a fan holding a tape recorder and using one of those awful sounding ferric cassettes. I hated those, everything sounded so muddy and dull. No top end.
It’s still an enjoyable listen though, hearing Hurrah! when they were still a vital but sadly ignored indie-jangle combo. They would soon sign to Arista and have some moderate success and release a couple of late eighties albums. I still have no idea what those long-players sound like.
“Around And Around” is a great number, what a shame they didn’t release this on a single when they were with Kitchenware. It’s a song that captures Hurrah! at their best. Scratchy, edgy guitars, harmonies and a pop beat.
The Beat Generation And The Angry Young Men was the first retrospective to acknowledge the impact of the Mod Revival and its knock-on effect in collecting circles. Originally released in 1984, by Ed Piller on the Well Suspect label, many of the featured tracks were already demanding high pocket money prices (Directions, Small Hours, Long Tall Shorty) and these days far more.
This reissued digital deluxe edition revisits and revamps the original; losing two tunes but gaining five extra tasty maximum R&B numbers (from the Italian group, The Mads) recorded between 1979 and 82. Best played loud, this compilation has influenced much of the indie-rock and Brit-Pop elite of the current generation of ‘angry young men’….and women.
Groups on this disc include: The Mads, The Directions, Long Tall Shorty, The Small Hours, Les Elite and The Purple Hearts.
Moving onto ‘Psychocandy’ by Jesus & Mary Chain, from the back end of 1985. It’s not a record I’m very familiar with but decided to buy a cheap CD last month.
If white noise, feedback, barely audible drenched vocals and shoegaze punk are your scene, well, you’re gonna dig this. One to play very loud and torment the neighbours into banging their heads against the wall and possibly ripping their own brains out of their skulls with a meat cleaver.
Some numbers on this have garage rock riffs and I enjoyed those better than the rest. The drums appear to have been treated in some way, maybe not even real drums?
All in all though, a fascinating collection of songs and ahead of their time in some ways. The Velvet Underground inspiration is certainly obvious, mix into that vessel of noise some Goth pounding and it comes out all candy for psychos.
Radio 1 Sessions is a compilation of studio recordings made for BBC Radio One by the pop punk band Generation X between 1977 and 1979. Three separate John Peel sessions are featured, along with a cover version of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Shakin’ All Over’, recorded for David Jensen’s early evening show.
This official 2002 release on Strange Fruit is quite a rarity nowadays and may command a decent price if offered for sale. Sound quality is superb.
Strawberry is a new Cherry Red imprint. Picking up where the mighty RPM Records have left off, Strawberry will shine a light on collectible 60s and 70s recordings, from themed compilations to single artist anthologies and occasional album reissues.
Halcyon Days is inspired by RPM’S bespoke compilations Looking Back, Keep Lookin’ and Night Comes Down. It charts the development of mod friendly beat music across three CDs from the jazzy R&B of Chris Farlowe, Duffy Power with Graham Bond and Zoot Money that opens disc one through horn laden Brit soul from Jimmy James, Geno Washington and The Richard Kent Style, ska from Mickey Finn & The Blue Men, girl group pop from The Chantelles and fuzz drenched freakbeat from The Pretty Things and The Worrying Kynde. On disc three the influence of psychedelia becomes apparent on offerings by Jason Crest, July and Dantalian’s Chariot.
Bands featured include The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Pretty Things, The Creation, The Action, The Artwoods, John’s Children, The Spencer Davis Group, Brian Auger & The Trinity and The Fleur De Lys.
There are early singles from future super stars David Bowie and Rod Stewart plus early recordings from Jimmy Page with Mickey Finn & The Blue Men and alongside Jeff Beck in The Yardbirds, Steve Howe in The In Crowd, Greg Lake in The Shame and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in The Graham Bond Quartet. Mick Fleetwood drums for The Bo Street Runners, future Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore backs Heinz, his Purple bandmate Jon Lord is organist in The Artwoods, Rolling Stone Bill Wyman produces The End and Denny Laine later to join Paul McCartney in Wings sings with The Moody Blues.
Producer Mike Hurst opens his archives allowing us to include freakbeat nuggets from The Australian Playboys, The Human Instinct, The Favourite Sons, Double Feature and The Oscar Bicycle plus orchestrated pop gems from the soulful Truly Smith, psychedelic The Alan Bown!, Swedish mods The Tages and dramatic singing twins Paul & Barry Ryan.
First time on CD rarities include British R&B, soul and mod beat tracks from The Athenians, The Fingers, The Candy Dates, Barney J. Barnes & The Intro, Kevin ‘King’ Lear, Dorian Gray, Barry St. John, Ray French, Laris McLennon and Sleepy plus there are previously unissued recordings by The SW4, The Union and The Trendbender Band.
Includes a booklet with track by track annotation, crammed full of rare pictures including gig posters, sheet music and band photos.