Play For Today
OK, so The Searchers didn’t have the copyright on ringing 12-string, catchy choruses and tight, Scousey harmonies. But in the mid-’60s, they were pretty big in the States, too, and their sound infiltrated a generation of Anglophile powerpoppers – Tom Petty chief among them. Which is probably why Seymour Stein – boss of celebrated New Wave label Sire and something of a fan – thought they would be such a good fit for the late ’70s, rewarding the band with a multi-album deal. It didn’t work out completely for Mike Pender and co: Play For Today was the second and final LP The Searchers cut for Sire, but it’s pretty great – superior, chiming powerpop that acknowledged, albeit tastefully, that punk really did happen. And nestled among self-penned material (“Little Bit Of Heaven”, the surprisingly Smithsy “Another Night”), there’s even a cover of Big Star’s “September Gurls”.
EXPECT TO PAY: £15, although copies are getting rarer
(Rough Trade, 1984)
The Paisley Underground supergroup! Nearly 20 years after the first psychedelic outbreak on Sunset Strip, some of the leading lights of Los Angeles’ emerging neo-psych scene – Dream Syndicate, Opal, The Bangles and The Three O’Clock – pooled resources to cut an album of immaculately chosen covers of their musical heroes. The project has aged remarkably well: here you’ll find an exquisite version of Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” sung by The Bangles’ soon-to-be-chart-topping Susanna Hoffs, a haunting take on Big Star’s “Holocaust” by Opal’s Kendra Smith, plus fine stabs at Neil Young’s “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong”, and, of course, Hendrix’s “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, all sympathetically produced by man-on-the-scene David Roback, later of Mazzy Star. It’s bizarre this little-heard gem has never been reissued – although presumably getting permission from all the parties involved must be something of a logistical nightmare.
EXPECT TO PAY: Difficult to find, but £25, maybe?
ERIC CLAPTON AND MICHAEL KAMEN
Edge Of Darkness OST
(BBC Records And Tapes, 1985)
In the mid-1980s, Eric Clapton’s career was not in robust health. A recovering alcoholic, facing the commercial disappointment of ’83’s Money And Cigarettes, Clapton embarked on a brief detour into soundtrack work with US composer Michael Kamen. Their first outing together was this atmospheric six-track score for the BBC’s landmark conspiracy drama, and was different from anything else in Clapton’s canon: ditching the blues, the master guitarist built low, mournful guitar motifs around Kamen’s chugging semi-industrial score. First issued on vinyl, cassette and – unusually for 1985 – CD, it has never been reissued.
EXPECT TO PAY: £15, more for the CD