Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter E, Part 10)

In these dark times, the consensus in our blogging community seems to be that the show should and must go on, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As I continue this massive vinyl-ripping project and series, there are some bands that need and deserve more than one post. The need is because there is too much to rip to complete the task in a mere one or two sittings. This brings the blog to a standstill. If I have a huge stack of vinyl by a band, chances are they are very important to me, and I don't like equating a single post by someone minor in the collection, such as Terence Trent D'Arby, with a vital band like today's selection, Everything But the Girl. That means we will need to spend a few days with Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt while I catch up with the vinyl transfers.

Although I didn't keep up with the duo during the '90s, I think I have just about all there is to have by them in the '80s. I fell in love with Thorn's voice when she sang "The Paris Match" for the Style Council in '84. For much of the rest of the decade, I searched high and low for everything I could get my hands on that featured those pipes. For these pages, I'm going to focus on a few of my favorite singles.

Let's begin with this four-track 12" from 1986. "Come on Home," as well as much of the music on 'Baby, the Stars Shine Bright,' was Everything But the Girl going for it. In Thorn's memoir 'Besdit Disco Queen,' she explains the music that was influencing EBTG at the time:

"Our watchwords at the time were Spector, The Shngri-La's and the album Dusty in Memphis. Peter Walsh from The Apartments moved into our flat for a while, and introduced us to Charlie Rich records."

Ben Watt worked tirelessly on string arrangements, and a full orchestra and choir was brought into Abbey Road with Mike Hedges producing. Thorn called it "a grand gesture of a record." When Geoff Travis (their A&R man at the time) visited the studio and heard a finished mix of one of the songs for the first time, he said, "Well, it's very good, but is there possibly a little too much going on in there?" Just what you want to hear after all of that labor, I'm sure.

The extended version of "Come on Home" is a minute longer than the album version and has a lovely prelude. "Draining the Bar," written by Thorn, had to have been influenced by those Rich records. Hearing pedal steel was quite a shock in '86, but I love the song, especially lyrically. For quite a while, you could only get this song on the 7" and 12", but it eventually showed up on the 1992 Japanese import '82-92 Essence And Rare.' There's a nice acoustic version of "Come on Home" on there, too. As for the cover of "I Fall to Pieces," that one was really tough to find until 2012 when 'Baby, the Stars Shine Bright" got the deluxe treatment in 2012. Man, I hate it when my vinyl becomes obsolete.

"Come on Home" (Extended)
"Draining the Bar"
"Come on Home"
"I Fall to Pieces"


Echorich said...

I don't think I could do justice to Everything But The Girl in a week of posts Brian!
But what a great place to start!
Baby The Stars Shine Bright remind me of my first trip to London in 1986. The album was featured in all the High Street Music Stores and I tried to even con a store manager at Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus to let me have an extra 6 foot poster of the album cover that was in the window...didn't succeed but it was well worth the effort trying.
Come On Home really maximizes all the efforts put into this album in one song. It is a gorgeous wall of sound, yet it is a very intimate song in its essence. This was a real trademark of EBTG's pop music and it would last well into the 90's, even with their move towards the dance floor.

The Swede said...

It's been a long time since I heard any early EBTG Brian, it's a treat to revisit them here and I'm looking forward to more. I've read one of Ben Watt's books, which was very good, but I've yet to pick up either of Tracey Thorns - I must right that wrong. A pleasure to see Pete Walsh's name mentioned in dispatches by the way - The Apartments are terrific.

friend of rachel worth said...

Love this band and the solo lps are fantastic as well. TT voice just gets better and better. I love the wall of sound production but i dont think MT does traceys voice any favours.

Dirk said...

Draining The Bar was in fact the first tune I ever heard of EBTG ... and it's astonishing how marvellous it still sounds after all those years!

Brian said...

A great memory, Echorich. Would still love to have that poster!

FORW, Will probably get to the solo albums much later in this series. I agree. Good stuff.

Swede, I think the plan is to thoroughly cover about five singles. As Echorich says, a week doesn't really do EBTG justice, but I'll do my best to give you a taste.

Dirk, Wow, a B-side! That's not the one most people hear first, but it's as fine a place to start as any. My first song will be coming up tomorrow.

JC said...

Had a few days in which I haven't been able to visit my blogging friends and then when I drop by in here to find this quite stunning run of posts.....

I've been picking up a few of the old EBTG LPs on second hand vinyl these past couple of years and was slowly gearing myself up to an ICA; but I'm reckoning you'll have said it all my friend. It's actually given me an idea for a different type of post altogether.

EBTG were wonderful. They made some of the most enjoyable and enduring music in my collection, always doing something that little bit different to make them worth going back to time and time again.

Oh and the solo stuff was good too.


Brian said...

An ICA for EBTG would be great. I don't have the '90s output, but I bet Echorich or FORW might be up to the task. I wonder what you different idea was... Intrigued and will watch out for it.

JC said...

Tune in on Thursday.....