Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Hit Parade - Oh Honey I...

This blog prides itself on its integrity and prescience. Eight weeks ago it blew its research budget (£9 inc postage) on the new single by Acton's Tycoons of Teen, The Hit Parade.

Today, another copy of the single arrived, telling me it's released on 19 January with a note from The Hit Parade's nom de normale, Julian Henry, suggesting, correctly as it turns out, that I might like it.

Oh Honey I... sees The Hit Parade switch on their home recording studio after listening to Phil Spector's Back To Mono, waiting until all the needles are on red and then increasing the emotions to breaking point.

This 7" represents no stylistic or lyrical leap. The song might be inspired by Shelagh Delaney's A Taste Of Honey, but really, after our Jules sings "If love has all the answers then how did I become so hopelessly lopsided and helplessly undone" it's clear the old milksop is singing from his own romantic misadventures.

Maybe after 34 years in the game Julian's right to acknowledge ruefully: "As Edwyn said I'm simply thrilled to play my guitar and talk to you through a dead medium like this."

There's a new album called Still Julian (of course it's called that) coming later this year.

Any friends in London want a copy? I don't need 2 copies. And I don't want to go to the post office.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Bill Direen & The Bilders ‎– Chrysanthemum Storm

One of the upsides of the vinyl revival is reissues of rare underground records. Bill Direen's releases in various guises - Bill Direen & Friends, Bill Direen & The HAT, Builders, Six Impossible Things, Vacuum, an album under his own name which was Flying Nun's first long player - have been prised from under the floorboards. They're all worth your time, none more so than 2008's Chrysanthemum Storm, originally a CD only, which I rate as among his finest works.

Even though Direen is a true one-off, the influences here are most obviously Lou Reed's Transformer (two of these songs aren't far off Perfect Day) and Bowie's Berlin trilogy. But imagine, if you will, mixing those with Roxy Music busking on second-hand electronic equipment, Tom Waits' mongrel blues and the tormented rage of those early Microdisney singles.

The lyrics, too, are a joy, not least if you take pleasure in bleakness and black humour. There's life and death in Try Again In Ten Minutes, which is a dismal rumble through the queues at the maternity ward and the cemetery, and the elliptical "he was unfocused, she was into hocus pocus".