Friday, September 25, 2009

Between Mister and Mattress

This image of Paul Handyside has come to you across several different media - recorded, broadcast, rerecorded, ripped, encoded, transcoded, copied and saved digitally and virtually. Still, it is an image. We can just about make out the beautiful, black Burns Doublesix he is playing. Or simulating playing. Because there is music as well, only this image has now been stripped of its soundtrack. The sound that should go with this image is an edited down version of a song recorded in a different place and different time. In its full context, we can even see Paul happily strumming along when he should actually be playing something completely different. So it would make as much sense to present this image here, totally out of context, and out of time.

To provide some context, a virtual person has recently uploaded several videos spanning the whole career of Newcastle band Hurrah!, perhaps in excitement over Monday's reissue of Tell God I'm Here on Cherry Red (following the surely unprecedented success of the Another Sunny Day reissue last month). You can watch them here. The early ones are magnificent, while the later ones can best be described with the adjectives 'silly' and 'sexist'. Now, the reason for picking up the in many respects forgettable Tell God I'm Here (already reissued in Japan last year) is the second disc, which includes 11 tracks from desirable compilation The Sound of Philadelphia. While they have omitted the best Hurrah! track "Around and Around" (ask Bob Stanley) you are treated to the b-side to "Hip Hip" and the best cuts from second album The Beautiful.

The reason why I say they are the best is because I have just had the pleasure of hearing this 1989 lp in it its entirety. I think it is beautiful, landing somewhere in-between their more fragile early recordings and the sound of Bronze. It includes new versions of several old songs: "Saturday's Train" (recorded for radio in 1982), "Big Sky" (intended to be their third single, in 1984) and "Velveteen" (documented on the live lp Way Ahead, recorded in 1985). Since the only way to hear the whole record is to download it illegally, perhaps you should suggest to Cherry Red that they reissue The Beautiful as well!

On the same cherry red note, next Monday sees the release of Black Path, a retrospective of my favourite Medway group The Claim, culled from their singles (including both sides of their Caff 7"!) and two albums plus plenty of unreleased material.

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