Various: Giant – 14 Brand New Tracks From original London Artists UK CD 
- Voice Of The Beehive: Beat Of Love
- Then Jerico: Blessed Days
- Hard Rain: I Will Remember
- Carmel: Nothing Good [Piano Mix]
- Communards: C Minor [Live]
- Hothouse Flowers: Lonely Lane [Live]
- Martin Stephenson & The Daintees: There Comes A Time
- Fine Young Cannibals: I’m Tired Of Getting Pushed Around
- Yes No People: Some Things Are True
- Bananarama: Clean Cut Boy [Party Size]
- The Kane Gang: Don’t Look Any Further
- Junior: High Life
- Clare Grogan: Reason Is The Slave
- David Rudder: Madness
It was when I was getting serious about getting the complete works of Carmel, that I was doing some research at Discogs and first came across this compilation. It sported a rare Carmel version that appeared nowhere else, “Nothing Good [Piano Mix].” I noted that there was an LP only listed of it at the time and it was… difficult to purchase. Later on I looked at the listing again and saw that, gloryoski, it also contained a Clare Grogan song from her unreleased solo album that appeared here in advance of the release of the “Trash Mad” album that’s still on a shelf somewhere in UMG’s dungeons. This was something that I should have…
<insert 12 year gap here>
Over the years, CD versions of this title would manifest and it became something that became a little more easy to obtain. There was even a Canadian release of this [left], but since it lacked the Carmel and Clare Grogan tunes, it was a non-started with me. It became possible in recent years, to buy the LP version of this from Americans, but the asking price was pitched above a ten-spot, generally. After seeing a few of these show up in my Discogs feed, I looked recently at the CD version and it was going for chump change. Even factoring the shipping from Europe, the CD was going to be cheaper than the LP from America [less shipping!], so I pushed the button, finally. About a week later it was in my mailbox. What’s it like?
I’d read that it started with an early version of “The Beat Of Love, ” the sturdy Voice of The Beehive song that opened their superb “Let It Bee” album released the following year, but a cursory listen revealed that that was perhaps wishful thinking. It seemed like the LP version, albeit released here in advance of the LP. Then Jerico were a band that typified the toothgrinding middle-80s. Id heard a promo of this on its release, back in the day. “Big Rock” music with a scant dusting of whatever was left of Post-Punk aspirations by 1987. Feh! The tune here [“Blessed Days”] did nothing to change my opinion of 30 years.
Even worse were Hard Rain. “I Will Remember” played like producer Julian Mendelsohn was pining to produce him some U2, and he had to settle for 4th best… and keep in mind that I don’t even like U2! Fortunately, Carmel saved the day with the “Piano Mix” of “Nothing Good,” a strong torch song from “Everybody’s Got A Little …Soul.” The version here was even better than the album with just Ms. McCourt and pianist Ugo Delmirani making the song even more intimate than the LP version.
Unfortunately, the compilers of this LP saw fit to bookend the Carmel performance with another torch song that I was less receptive to, to put it mildly. While it’s my duty to let all Communards fans know that the live from the BBC version of “C Minor” that appeared here, appeared only here, that still doesn’t mitigate the fact that the effect of hearing Jimmy Somerville sing is not unlike having 5 inch spikes nailed into my abdomen. I gritted my teeth all the way through the single playback I was determined to give the whole album. His brittle falsetto is perhaps the least enjoyable human voice I’ve ever heard.
Another live recording came next. I’d managed to avoid Irish rockers Hothouse Flowers for nearly 30 years because… Irish Rockers! After The Boomtown Rats it all went pear-shaped, didn’t it? Tiresome rawk music as if punk had never happened. I’d heard some speak glowingly of Martin Stephenson And The Daintees, so I was sort of curious to hear what all the turmoil was over. The first play was very slight, but on the second playback, I began to hear a kinship with perhaps Leonard Cohen. Not as good, of course, but I have a better grasp of the adulation.I feel the same way about Stephen Duffy and I’m sure a Stephenson fan might look askance at me for preferring Duffy. Still, I don’t think I’ll be hitting the “next” button on this one in the future.
I was surprised to see Two Men, A Drum Machine And A Trumpet’s “I’m Tired Of Getting Pushed Around” credited here to Fine Young Cannibals! Maybe this appearance was a pre-resease before they rebranded [wisely]. The 7″ mix of this is less tiresome than the 12″ mix I have on another compilation CD so I suppose that’s a plus. Still, you can tell that every hack out there by 1987 wanted a piece of the “Pump Up The Volume” pie. I’d erase the lot of them if given the chance. Tiresome “music” constructed with only cynicism and samplers. The blueprint for everything I hated about the next 15 years of daaaaaance music.
Speaking of which, Bananarama’s “Clean Cut Boy [Party Size]” was a dreadful B-side from their “hell in a handbasket” period of their career. After signing on with the Devil [a.k.a. Pete Waterman]. Then the album threw what passed for soul music in 1987 in my face! The Kane Gang were always tiresome to these ears, but Junior Giscombe afterward sounded like he booked his session in the same studio, where the gear just stayed there and they all used the same presets! I may dislike the music of the early 70s, by and large, but at least it sounded better than this dreck.
And speaking of dreck, I am here to report that maybe, the shelving of Clare Grogan’s solo album was a kindness to her fans. My thoughts on “Love Bomb” are elsewhere on this blog, but apart from quoting Scotland’s David Hume for the title and gist of this song [which is repeated endlessly throughout the song] the actual recording features Ms. Grogan dumped into the least hospitable Latinohouse music bed conceivable. As problematic as some of the material on “Bite” was to these ears, this was clearly the work of Satan. Afterwards, the Soca of David Rudder sounds like he also booked the same studio and got the same instruments and didn’t change the presets! Were the 80s this bad when it was still happening or was I just blind to the enormous dive in quality post-1982? Compilations like this one point to “yes!”
At least my Carmel collection got one song closer to completion.
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