Monday, February 25, 2013
50 GREAT ALBUMS IN MY 50th YEAR (Part 15)
Regular readers won't be surprised to find the 1986 debut LP by Martin Stephenson & The Daintees has made the list as I've often mentioned that it is one of my all time favourite LPs.
I'd read a lot about the band in the music press while the occasional track on radio had caught my attention. But it was seeing a live performance of some songs on BBC TV's Whistle Test that really got me interested, particularly the rendition of Crocodile Cryer, so much so that the next time I was in a record shop I grabbed anything by the band that I could get my hands on.
Years later, I look back and reflect that this is an album, probably more than any other, which has cemented friendships with folk. It's one of those records that may not have necessarily sold all that many copies on its release but it seems, from my experience anyway, that every person who I've ever got into conversation about Boat to Bolivia has got great taste in music.
It's an LP with a great many influences - country, pop, folk, blues, traditional ballads while there's even a hint of cod-reggae on the title track. It's a record that got me very interested in catching the band play live, and I must have done so one something between 15 and 20 times in the late 80s and early 90s over the course of the tours and shows promoting the four LPs they released on Kitchenware Records. And in all cases bar one, they were magnificent. Sadly, the one letdown was potentially the biggest show I ever saw them play at a sold-out Glasgow Pavilion only to be let down by Martin having one of his nights where the demon drink got the better of him - the band had to take to the stage without him and improvise, and when he did finally stagger on he was in a dreadful state.
As this excellent biography demonstrates, those days are now long in the past and Martin Stephenson continues today to be one of the most enjoyable live performers you will ever be fortunate to see on a stage, whether with the Daintees or in his solo guise.
This is an LP with some of the most amazingly personal sleeve notes you will ever come across. Martin details how the death of his beloved grandmother, the end of his sister's lesbian love affair and a cousin's miscarriage inspired some of the songs. It's a record that was brilliantly produced by Gil Norton though I still find it hard to reconcile his work on this album with some of the later much louder and more rock-orientated musicians that he went on to work with - and yes. I'm particularly thinking about The Pixies.
I've listened regularly to this LP for 27 years. Not once have I tired of it, and not once have I been tempted to skip a single track any time the needle has hit the groove or whatever it is that makes CDs and mp3s function.
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - Crocodile Cryer
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintess - Look Down, Look Down
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - Rain
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - Boat to Bolivia
I also have Martin Stephenson to thank for belatedly introducing me to the genius of Leonard Cohen. He constantly referenced him when he played Rain and acknowledged the tune owed a lot to that of the Canadian bard's classic Suzanne. This led to me checking things out and being very very pleasantly surprised...and many years later to one of the most entertaining gigs I've ever had the privilege of witnessing.
This post is dedicated to Jacques the Kipper as a thank you for being such a great mate and confidante over all these years since we first hooked up in a council office that has long since closed and been re-opened as a very upmarket and swanky Edinburgh hotel. At least I think the word is swanky.....I may have mistakenly typed an additional letter.