Saturday, August 2, 2014

Early Takes From the Bluebells Answer the Bell

The liner notes to the just released 'Exile on Twee Street,' a collection of early recordings made before the band signed with London Records, is an extended Q&A with band members. The closing question gets to the meat of the matter. "Some of the songs were later reworked on London with a proper recording budget. How do you think these early prototypes compare with the 'proper' versions which followed?" Lawrence Donegan nailed it with his succinct reply: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that the demos are always better than the 'proper' recordings."

Unlike the usual odds-and-sods packages that seem to be just for die-hard fans, these 20 tracks could actually win a legion of new listeners. For those who were always confused about why "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was slated to be 81-12 on the list of releases from Postcard Records, three minutes into this album it becomes crystal clear what Alan Horne heard back then. The lo-fi sound really suits Bobby Bluebell and the lads, and there is no way with this lot you could associate them with the "wimpy" label they would become saddled with a very short time later. In fact, you can really hear the influence of Edwyn Collins and his crew on some of these recordings, and the Bluebells go into great detail in the liner notes about how Orange Juice helped them on and off the stage during this period.

I assumed I would enjoy these first stabs at the songs I already knew, such as "Some Sweet Day," "Happy Birthday" and "Forevermore," but the real surprises were with the songs I never knew existed before 'Exile on Twee Street.' Cheers to Cherry Red for releasing these gems and putting to rest why it was the Bluebells were such an integral part of the Glasgow scene during the city's most exciting period for music. This one is sure to show up near the top of my year-end list of best reissues.

For the benefit of American readers, order this one on the UK version of Amazon. I know it saved me a ton of dough.


friend of rachel worth said...

Got this on order - I am unsure what to expect as always felt the Bluebells were a bit of a mixed bag. I'm Falling is one of the classic lost singles and I love the stuff from the japan only 2nd lp. However some of the stuff just misses it for me and I'm not really sure why.

Brian said...

Great to hear from you, FORW. I'm more or less in agreement with you. I have a few A-sides that I go to often... as well as an equal number of B-sides. Lots of misses. These demos are the first time I really feel like I get it. You won't agree with me because I know you like Trapped and Unwrapped, but I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the story of the Bluebells is a lot like Friends Again. The songs before the big label got a hold of them have turned out to be so much better. Bottom line, I think you will like Exile on Twee Street quite a bit.