The first thing to mention is this was written after Nicky Wire lost both of his parents just before the pandemic, and continuing into lockdown the album, or at least its lyrics, reflects sadness, insecurities and loneliness. The loneliness of being an orphan is real even well into middle age. Been there myself. But more than that it makes you reflect on and see the world altogether differently, probably due to the heightened sense of your own mortality.
We kick off with an acoustic version of So Sad About Us, complete with intro by Pete himself. A lovely demonstration of Townshend’s guitar prowess. But, alas, at 2:26 it abruptly stops and heads straight into Brr. Brr is a great piece of music that sounds like it would fit on Rough Mix (1977) quite happily but I’d have preferred it if the entirety of So Sad had survived. Zelda is a standout from side one for me, it reminded me of Michael Nyman (reviewed here too) with the ‘heartbeat’ of violin going through the entire track, and as far as I know, appeared nowhere else other than this compilation. I couldn’t see it on any Who album but it would have played nicely with other solo stuff I think.
Released in 1977, Front Page News definitely rates as early Wishbone, but even so this is what they call the Mk 2 lineup and there seems to be a consensus they were passed their best by then. I hadn’t realised they had been so prolific latterly either, with regular releases well into the 2010s.
Having lived through, and been very much a part of the Mod Revival scene in the late 70s and early 80s, the only band I’d seen live or really heard of from this collection was Purple Hearts. They were quite popular at the time among my friends, and they recorded several fairly iconic albums such as Beat That and Head On Collision Time, featuring the Mod classic Frustration.
It must be really difficult constantly being compared to somebody, like your father for example, but even more so if that somebody is your younger self. McCartney set such a high standard with his first solo LP, McCartney, RAM and then the initial Wings offerings including the excellent Band On The Run, that any dip in form seems amplified and somehow more disappointing. I actively avoided a lot of it as I preferred to remember one of my heroes at his very best. Was that unfair? Was I wrong to do so? Let’s find out….
Heaven Up Here was released on Korova in 1981 and was, by all measures, a success – a top 10 album in the UK, an entry in the US Billboard album charts, and it spawned two singles, A Promise and Over The Wall.
Just a shade under 15 minutes, Anatamoy starts off with a single piano playing traditional jazz style over the thrumb of mingling voices in the audience. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke.
Imagine a Peter Greenaway movie, personified, going into Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse. The result would be the biorhythm and undulating classical melody of Michael Nyman.
All or Nothing! Records, 1988 A difficult to describe band and quite obscure it seems, Attacco Decente were around from 1984 to 1996, a long …
Close your eyes, imagine laying on a rug in a field, mid summer. You can smell the freshly cut grass, the flowers, and hear the insects buzzing around, the crickets and barking dogs. It’s the English Summer perfectly captured in sampled sound and droning organ. Summer’s Cauldron is a perfect introduction to the album. It sets the theme brilliantly and you know something special is about to happen.