Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Vinyl Frontier - Crosby, Stills & Nash, Throwing Muses

My first record fair of the year (Southampton Solent University Conference Centre, Saturday 18th January), uncovered some interesting gems. First up is the début Crosby, Stills & Nash album, with gatefold sleeve featuring slightly out-of-focus photos of the band and lyric sheet, and is now the oldest vinyl recording I own (1969). It plays well on my Pro-Ject carbon, Kenwood amp and Q speakers, although the bass fights to come through and the production sounds a little fuzzy. It's a great album that hasn't aged too well in terms of song-writing but the combined vocals of CSN are without question, beautiful. Likewise, a German release of Harvest by Neil Young is equally lovely, the follow-up to the brilliant After The Goldrush and is always in its predecessor's shadow.

I am always looking out for 'cult' bands and artists from the 80s and 90s and whenever I frequent fairs and new record shops, I am instantly drawn to any boxes labelled 'punk/new wave' or 'alternative' (if there are any). One band's recently re-discovered catalogue is Throwing Muses (their album Purgatory/Paradise from late last year is a masterpiece) but I have never found any decent vinyl...until now. I wait years and two come along at once: Hunkpapa and Limbo - neither are the best Throwing Muses albums but great nonetheless, both in good condition and sound like they have hardly been played.

Three more to finish: Midnight Oil's breakthrough mid-eighties tribute/protest album Diesel and Dust (picked up at a new record shop I found on the way home from the record fair) - this has been well-played but has enough huge arrangements to hide any imperfections. The Echo & The Bunnymen singles collection Songs To Learn & Sing has plenty of great songs, although not a rarity. And lastly, the début Happy Head from The Mighty Lemon Drops - a band always second to The Teardrop Explodes for me but another great addition to my growing collection of vinyl.

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