Friday, 17 May 2013

Chop's CD Roulette - "Winter Words - Hits & Rareties" by All About Eve

The next entry in the Chop's CD Roulette series is exactly the type of album I was hoping to find. Something I've not listened to for ages, and if I'm honest am not entirely sure why I bought.

@Sidaway1 selected A9 which corresponded to Winter Words - Hits & Rareties by All About Eve (1992)

Winter Words is a compilation released by record label Mercury shortly after an acrimonious split with the band. It features all the bands best known singles from their first three (and most succesful albums) along with a number of rare and unreleased tracks. I'd been a big All About Eve fan up to that point and probably had most of this stuff already but clearly felt there was something essential I was missing. My music purchases are more varied these days, I'm certainly less completist about bands that I like. I suppose All About Eve appealed to the folk element of my musical taste. I also had a bit of a thing for Julianne Regan.

I tweeted this listen live, which was fun and provided some useful interaction along the way.

The first track is Our Summer, an odd choice for an opener as it's an unreleased version, possibly a demo. I vaguely remember it being a live fave but it gets this compilation off to a wonky start. It's a bit of a stodgy mix which doesn't help and is a little underwhelming if I'm honest. All About Eve had recently split with their original record company, Phonogram, so this was a cash in spitefully released to coincide with the band's fourth album, and first for MCA, Ultraviolet.

Track 2 is much more like it. Flowers In Our Hair was the last of the band's four self released singles and is subtly different to the version that made it on to their debut album. Though if I'm honest I didn't notice and only found out thanks to the help of Wikipedia. In The Clouds continues in much the same vein. This is one of their better tunes with a booming bass line and multi-tracked Julianne vocals. Lovely.

I'm trying to work out why I was so into All About Eve. They had a bit of a Goth connection, Julianne singing on an early Mission single and Tim Bricheno eventually leaving the band to play guitar with Sisters of Mercy, but I wasn't into those bands at all. If anything I guess between 1988 and 1992 I was going through something of a transition from Heavy Metal kid through Indie to all stops Alternative. Things got a mixed up as I discovered lots of new music and didn't always filter out the crap.

Ah, Martha's Harbour, pretty sure this is the tune that really won me over. A delicate acoustic guitar melody and a really pretty vocal from Julianne Regan. This was All About Eve at their most folky and definitely their biggest hit. You might remember them performing it on Top Of The Pops when they failed to hear their cue and ended up standing still looking silly while the song played. Think they got to go back the following week to do it properly.

Every Angel sounds a bit more rocky. Definitely one of my favourites from their live shows. Tim giving it some on the Guitar and a nice vocal from Juilianne. I think, if I'm honest, the main attraction to All About Eve for me was Julianne Regan.

I'm so shallow.

On Twitter @substandardnerd recommended Julianne Regan's other band Mice. They released one album in 1996 called "... Because I Can". I've a feeling someone lent me a copy of this ages ago and I never got round to playing it, so will try and dig it out.

Wild Hearted Woman and What Kind Of Fool round off the singles from their debut album. This compilation is helpfully in chronological order so next up are the singles from second album Scarlet & Other Stories. Road To Your Soul shows the bands sound maturing a little. Tim's guitar sounds warmer and they've taken advantage of the benefits of a plusher recording studio. Scarlet is a fine album though, I saw them play the Royal Albert Hall two nights in a row on this tour, which is a little hard to comprehend now. I had a a real cross section of friends who also liked them so went with people I probably didn't see many other bands with.

The title track Scarlet has a really nice semi-acoustic (I'm guessing) guitar intro. There's a bit of Spanish guitar too and a lovely vocal. Hints of Kate Bush which explains why at least one of my mates liked them (Hello Martyn!). December starts slowly but builds into quite a dramatic tune. There's a hint of Marillion in the guitar sound, believe it or not.

Tim Bricheno left the band after Scarlet (having split up with Julianne too). Marty Willson-Piper replaced him on guitar and Farewell Mr Sorrow was the first single from the new album Touched By Jesus. There's a fresh sound about this track, more of a pop sensibility perhaps. Marty's guitar sound is not massively different from Tim's sound, but does bring something a little different to the band. Strange Way is not quite as captivating and is the second song (and second single) written about Tim Bricheno. Ouch! Dreamer has a bit of fuzz pedal and indicates a slight shift in direction. I think Marty gave the band a new lease of life but unfortunately that wasn't reflected in sales.

We're into the rareties now which might have been the lure that coerced me into buying something with so much stuff I already owned. Paradise is up first but not hugely memorable. Candy Tree is a track that I think dates back to AAE's earliest days. I saw them play this live and was desperate to get a copy. Bit of a folk-rock vibe kicking off.

Somehow we still have four tracks to play. Drowning is first, it's got an echoey intro, quite atmospheric. Wild Flowers seems like an identikit AAE tune - Add a bit of acoustic, dig out a semi hippy lyric, get Julianne to sound wistful, job done. Ah, two "new" unreleased tracks close the album. Theft was apparently wrongly titled and should have been called If I Had You. That's blindingly obvious if you listen to the song. Then it's all over with Different Sky. Both tracks feature Wayne Hussey of The Mission on guitar, which kind of brings us full circle.

Not sure I'll be digging this out again in a hurry but it did bring back some nice memories. I suspect I've also used the word lovely more than any sane person really should.

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