Friday, November 1, 2013

When Blueboy Grew Up

From 'Return of the Pink Panther'
Clouseau: How long have you been a bellboy?
Bellboy: Ah, too long monsieur.
Clouseau: Well, keep up this good work and very soon I will see to it you become a bellman.

It's a beautiful fall day here in the Pacific Northwest... and a perfect time to pull out one of the crowning achievements from the catalog of Sarah Records. Until recently I always assumed Blueboy got its name from one of the best recordings Orange Juice ever committed to wax. Now I can only wish that was the case. Twenty years ago frontman Keith Girdler told a music magazine the moniker came from the Picasso painting "Blue Boy." The disappointments end there. If you aren't sure where to start, I would skip ahead a bit, beyond a handful of really good singles and a well-done album (that might be described as the typical sensitive Sarah fare) and go straight to the 1994 LP 'Unisex.' Clouseau would probably say that's when Blueboy became Blueman.

The leap from the 'If Wishes Were Horses' album to 'Unisex' is like when American Bob Beamon broke the world record in the long jump by nearly two feet during the 1968 Olympics. By then the band's personnel had grown threefold. The additions of multi-instrumentalist Gemma Townley (and she could sing too!) and guitarist Harvey Williams (yes, from Another Sunny Day) as lyricist Girdler and guitarist/songwriter Paul Stewart were maturing allowed the group to create much more complex songs while still adhering to that patented Sarah sound. There would be other EPs and even one more album (although not on Sarah), but I think 'Unisex' is Blueboy's best moment.

You can buy 'Unisex' with the post-album additions of the 'River' and 'Dirty Mags' EPs here. For you trivia buffs out there, 'Dirty Mags' was the last recording done by the label (Sarah, 099). Here are my three favorites from 'Unisex,' but I have found this is one of those albums best listened to from beginning to end.

Blueboy - Cosmopolitan (mp3)
Blueboy - The Joy of Living (mp3)
Blueboy - Imipramine (mp3)

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