I adore this album! And it has only recently come back into my life after many years. I first heard it in Connemara in Ireland through my friend Danny who made shoes and lived in a little house by the sea in Barna on the coastal road to Galway. He sat me down and played me ‘Mr Jones’ over and over, saying that he really related to the lyrics. He was a bit of a ladies man, was Danny.
I managed to get hold of a copy of it and took it to Dublin with me when I moved there, where it quickly became the soundtrack of my summer, crazy drunken nights in Temple Bar and mad parties on the roof of our flat in Pearce Street.
One night, after a particularly drunken evening, I fell asleep listening to it with a candle burning on top of a load of letters and poems I had been scrawling. I woke up with my mattress on fire with flames licking the tips of my hair. it took three of us to put out the fire and I couldn’t listen to the album for a while after that ..!
It’s a fabulous album. Beautifully crafted songs, deeply honest and confessional lyrics, all woven together with the magical Mr T-Bone Burnett producing.
My fave song though has got to be perfect blue buildings as it reminds me of Danny’s little house long ago and a more innocent time beside the green apple sea.
OK, OK… I know… but I’m gonna be honest here.
What can i say? I was young and had probably been overexposed to too much deep & meaningful hippy music. This was something new and exciting and very of the moment. They were cute with great suits and surrounded by gorgeous women on yachts!! Plus they were a much cooler alternative to Wham!
I still maintain these are great great pop songs… OK, the lyrics are dubious, but the melodies are simplisticly beautiful, there is some interesting production over a great beat. and this in my opinion makes for a great pop record, if pop is what your after.. And it was.
I’ll still dance to this album any day of the week.
Sadie’s Favourite Albums #6 WILDFLOWERS by Judy Collins
Judy Collins’ album WILDFLOWERS came into my life around the age of 14. Again i can’t remember quite how or who it came from – a friend of my parents or maybe my brother – but suddenly it was there… The beauty and elegance of her voice, the sheer force of it! To be able to combine such fragility and power and pain and comfort in one voice was to me both inspiring and incredible.
I had just started to get seriously into my singing and playing and the songs were like food to me. Every one a little art house film in my head. ‘Michael From Mountains’ and the Sisters Of Mercy – I could see them all so clearly!
The reason for this, i think, is Judy’s rare ability to let the songs sing through her. The respect and attention she gives to every word and the way the instruments on the album are so brilliantly arranged around her voice in order to support that, is what makes it a classic album.
Earlier this year i had the privilege of opening for Judy at The Jazz Café in London. For me it was like a fairy tale dream come true – to get to share the stage with someone you had sat in your bedroom and listened endlessly to as a teenager!!
And may i say that when I met her she was just as elegant and gracious as i had expected her to be.
This album appeared in my tape player around the age of 15… God knows how!?
It was a copy someone had made for me (probably my friend Tash) on an old TDK tape that kept breaking and I had to keep fixing with sellotape. I had pretty good editing skills for a 15 yr old girl!
it was the heady days of teenagedom. The hormones were seriously kicking in and i was falling in and out of love on a weekly basis, sitting around in my little bedroom smoking rollies and dreaming about boys when i should of been revising.
Joan Armatrading’s songs were a kind of lighthouse in those rough hormonal seas… whether you were drowning in the depths of despair or riding high on the heady waves of first love, the songs worked either way – guiding you back to shore, bringing you home.
Last year i was very fortunate to be invited on to Dave Fanning’s classic album show on Ireland’s RTE, where musicians talk about albums that have had a seminal influence on themselves and their work. I chose this album because it is genius…. and so is she.
I cant really remember when this album hit my consciousness… it is so deeply embedded in my psyche and my musical history it almost feels like its always been there… like i came out of the womb humming it.
My first memory about it is being told by someone that the whole album was recorded in one night in New York… that Van just gathered up a load of jazz musicians and played each song one after the other, keeping the tapes rolling. I was very impressed with this story and fantasised elaborate scenarios in my mind about how i could of been involved in the session…
… backing vocalist?
… coffee maker?
… then a time later i heard that it took one week, which was a bit disappointing but probably much more realistic… does anyone know?
I also remember knowing the first few times i heard it that its sound was completely unique, something no-one had ever done before. No-one told me this. I just knew it, even with my limited knowledge of music.
It is one of those albums that hits upon such a rare and new recipe of sounds and rhythms that it pretty much defines a new genre of music – somewhere between jazz , folk, Irish trad and 60′s psychedelic.
It is a trip, a journey, a train you ride, swept along on its ever changing rhythm with Van’s Buddha-like stream of consciousness lullabying in your ears …. between the viaducts of your dreams.
This Album (and song) exploded into my young life in only the way a bunch of raggle-taggle cute Anglo-Irish boy musicians can… completely and utterly and wildly. I was all consumed with it and listened to nothing else for months. It was early spring. I had just met a guy who lived in a little cottage in County Claire and who had invited me to come and stay anytime i wanted to get out of England (which was pretty much all the time then).
Earlier in the year my dad had died and with him being an atheist, we had not known what to do with his ashes, so… as he had loved Ireland so much, i decided to take the man from Claire up on his offer, put them in my rucksack and scatter them into the Irish Sea (off the edge of a P&O ferry!). This proved to be harder than i thought, what with the wind and all!
I continued my journey, hitching my way through rural Ireland to County Claire, getting lifts in trucks and tractors from friendly farmers, with my guitar on my back and the sun on my face and The Waterboys on my clapped out old Sony Walkman… the passion and warmth of their music lifted my spirits and soon had me dreaming of new adventures…
Listening back to the album now, I can see that a lot of the songs are about moving on and saying farewell to things and people that you love… that sweet melancholy, and i realise now that it was the perfect album with which to say goodbye to my Dad.
Around about the same age (11), on visits home to see my father in Cambridge, i used to go with my older brother to a second hand vinyl shop called Andy’s Records. This was a deeply cool place where my brother would hunt out his picture disk punk singles. The Dickies, Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks in hot neon pink and acid green like rare precious stones that i was barely allowed to listen to let alone touch.
It was not a place to be seen with your slightly chubby younger sister asking for ‘Hi Fidelity’ by The Kids from Fame (they didn’t have it).
So at my brothers request, I wandered down into the bargain area in the basement where all the scratched, broken or just uncool vinyl was. I spent ages, fascinated, flicking through the graveyard of albums. Of course I hadn’t heard of any of the bands, so only had the covers and prices to go by.
Suddenly one of the covers caught my eye. It was a picture of a man, wild and rugged, wrapped in furs with scarves and hats. He looked like he might be riding a horse. This man fascinated me, so I picked up the album and wandered over to the guy at the desk. As there was no price on it, the guy informed me that I could have it for 50p as there was a little chip on the edge of the record.
When I got it home and my brother finally allowed me to play it on his stereo, the thing that struck me first was the sweet and wild violin playing of Scarlet Rivera. This coupled with the beautiful, desperate almost howl-like vocals of Emmylou Harris.
She was different to Joni. More earthbound and passionate. Like nothing I had ever heard before. It seems to me now that DESIRE is the perfect name for that album. There is so much wild aching sweet bloody desire in the music and for me at that age, it was like taking a little peek into a mysterious world that I would one day enter. Love and sex and passion and loss and mystery all brought to life by the mastery of Dylan’s words, stories and poems, truths and non-truths. The troubadour’s world in constant motion.
There was such a sense of travel and expanse in it. I wanted to go to all the places he was singing about and be all the people in his stories. My love affair with Dylan had begun.
The chip in the record never bothered me. I just used to play it from the middle of the first song Hurricane, but it was a great moment when, years later, i first heard the opening lines: “Pistol shots ring out in a bar room night”.
Of course , what other opening lines could there be to an album like that?
When I was 11, I went to live with a very cool familly in Hertfordshire. He made music videos and she was a kind of boho queen. They had 4 chilldren, ranging from 3 to 16, a big rambling house and lots of interesting people hanging out. It was a blessed relief compared to what had come before. In that house there was light and laughter and… there was MUSIC!
My first memory of listening to BLUE is hearing this voice coming from the sitting room together with the sound of what i now know to be a dulcimer. A beautiful high crystal clear voice, a voice that seemed to want to trancend all the pain that it was singing about, to rise above it. It called me like a siren and I followed. I sat down on the sofa and listened to the whole album, barely breathing.
I listened to the honesty of those words “I’m frightened by the devil, and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid” and I understood, even aged 11, what it must take to be able to write with such honesty.
And I knew in that moment that if that honesty existed and could be sung about, then everything was gonna be OK.