Friday, March 18, 2016

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

There are so many reasons why the Bluebells should be one of my favorite bands. If Postcard Records had survived just a bit longer, the single "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" had already been assigned the number 81-12 among the label's brief but brilliant discography. During those early days, Elvis Costello produced seven of their songs, and it's his name appearing on sleeves that got me to give them a go. The Bluebells also opened for Elvis Costello and the Attractions on their UK tour throughout the fall of 1982.

Oh, and I loved their album covers and other sleeves. Great aesthetic. Many of them were designed by David Band. You would know his easily identifiable look on some of your favorite albums and singles from Altered Images, Aztec Camera, Friends Again and Spandau Ballet. This one for the "Forevermore" 7" is not a Band illustration, but I have always appreciated the lad letting fans know there are two songs on this single. Check out the Band cover for the original "Cath" 7". Looks familiar, eh?

So, despite having quite a few pieces of vinyl from the Bluebells, why don't I pull them off the shelf more? Back in 2014 when I put together a post for 'Exile on Twee Street,' a new Cherry Red release of demos and other nuggets from the Bluebells' infancy, I got a comment from Friend of Rachel Worth that conveyed my sentiments simply and succinctly: "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." This is illustrated by the fact I just tried to assemble a quick imaginary compilation like the ones JC does at The (new) Vinyl Villain. I almost pulled it off, but I came up a couple of songs short of a strong 10. Certainly nothing wrong with that... just not top tier.

Let's listen to a few songs that did make the cut. These are taken from the two records shown at the top of this post. I'm taking "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" from the 1983 self-titled mini album that was only released in North America, but the song appeared as a B-side and in plenty of other places. I have "Some Sweet Day" and "Happy Birthday (Turn Gold)" as B-sides to the "Sugar Bridge" 12" single, also from '83. These are my two favorites of the Costello productions. One criticism of the Bluebells is that they are too twee. If you're in that camp, skip these last two. That's the sound I'm attracted to the most, but I know it's not for everyone. These can be found on 'The Singles Collection.' If you don't want to scour the used vinyl bin, this is a great substitute... terrible cover though.

"Everybody's Somebody's Fool"
"Some Sweet Day"
"Happy Birthday (Turn Gold)"

March 29 Update: A reader has corrected me on a fairly large mistake I have made about David Band designing covers for the Bluebells (and Friends Again, for that matter). Please see Andrew Dineley's comment below and refer to The Cloth for the work of Band's mate Fraser Taylor.


Charity Chic said...

Cath is the one for me Brian - a terrific pop song

Brian said...

Made my cut too, CC. I have a nice 12" of that one.

kevinpat said...

Why did I always think this was a girl group?? Too much Freedy at the time I guess. Anyhow, thanks to adblocks you guys (it seems to be working....!!) I was able to discover that this is not a girl group, but some happy sounding male pop. "Some Sweet Day" would not sound out of place on the transistor 50 years ago. 'Sgot that Gerry/Pacemakers, Searchers vibe going.I like it. Thanks for introducing us!

McPop said...

I was late to the genius of this band. Like you, I discovered them through the Elvis Costello connection. I first found the amazing EP first, then tracked down the not as amazing but still great "Sisters" LP and most recently I picked up the cool CD comp of demos and rare versions. I could listen to "Forevermore", "Cath", "Red Guitars" and "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" over and over!

Andrew DIneley said...

Lovely record sleeves indeed, but not designed by David Band! Easy mistake to make, they were designed by his good friend and collaborator, Fraser Taylor whom he went to art school with. The style and techniques were very similar during that period. Check out all the record sleeve designs here:

Brian said...

McPop, I'm more into the very early recordings. I haven't given Sisters a spin in many years. I really enjoyed the CD comp too. I do wish some of those recordings were in better shape though. As I said when it came out, you can hear why they would have been a nice fit at Postcard.

Andrew, Thanks for setting the record straight. I go to that site all of the time. I thought they were all Band designs on there! My mistake. I'll refer to your comment in the post.

JC said...

A fine band....with some of the nicest blokes you'd ever want to spend time with.