PAUL QUINN & THE INDEPENDENT GROUP
The Phantoms & The Archetypes
With a voice pitched somewhere between Bowie’s Thin White Soul and Scott Walker’s deepest melancholy, Quinn ranks alongside The Associates’ Billy Mackenzie as one of the most extraordinary singers out of Scotland. A schoolfriend of Edwyn Collins and associate of Alan Horne’s original Postcard label, Horne’s plans to make him a star on his subsequent Swamplands label ran aground in disputes with owners London Records. Indeed, this album was a major reason behind Horne’s unexpected decision to resurrect Postcard in 1992. Produced by Collins, and featuring original Orange Juicer James Kirk’s guitar genius, Quinn’s voice wandered through dark shadows of soul, pop and country on ballads like “Punk Rock Hotel” and exquisitely desolate covers including The Carpenters’ “Superstar”. A film noir of a record, this has never been re-released, possibly because Horne reckons the world simply doesn’t deserve it.
EXPECT TO PAY: £40 if you’re lucky
LAL & MIKE WATERSON
Responding to new directions in folk-rock, the two Waterson siblings hired folk luminaries Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior, Ashley Hutchings, Tim Hart and Dave Mattacks for this chamber folk with an uncanny twist – child sacrifice in “The Scarecrow”, or “Winifer Odd”, smashed by a car while picking up a lucky star from the road. From intimate guitar/voice arrangements to the Nick Drake strings of “Never The Same” and the country rock of “The Magical Man”, the tracks are unpredictable as English weather. Shadows and sunny intervals dominate the lyrics, and the clouds part spectacularly for the closing “Bright Phoebus”, where the sun beams down a spiritual awakening. Aside from a shoddy CD-R from CM Distribution in 2000, this has suffered the same fate as the rest of the Leader/Trailer catalogue (see Dave & Toni Arthur, No 32).
EXPECT TO PAY: £30, with a bit of luck
T BONE BURNETT
(Chrysalis, 1980; Demon, 1997)
T Bone Burnett was unknown before Dylan recruited him for 1975’s Rolling Thunder Revue, where he met David Mansfield and Steven Soles, with whom he subsequently formed The Alpha Band and recorded three hugely idiosyncratic albums that combined rock, jazz, country, blues, folk and more. Truth Decay was his first solo album and returned him to the roots music he grew up with in Texas and with which he has since become indelibly associated as an award-winning producer. What Truth Decay shared with The Alpha Band was an inclination on songs like “Quicksand”, “Boomerang” and “House Of Mirrors” towards the surreal, satirical and unsettling, clever juxtapositions of off-kilter humour, dark moral fables and a profound disillusionment with a materialistic world, its acidity more brilliantly rendered than any of the infrequent solo albums that followed.
EXPECT TO PAY: A tenner for the vinyl, much, much more if you find it on CD