Saturday, May 16, 2020

Mind the Gap

Regular readers know my enthusiasm for new music waned in the '90s. I won't rehash the reasons. It will have to suffice to say sounds and tastes went into directions that weren't my cup of tea. Soup Dragons "Hang-Ten" vs. "I'm Free" is about the best example I can give. While I licked my wounds and retreated to the bands that made me love music in the first place (Kinks, Beach Boys, Zombies), I missed out on releases from artists I had once adored. During this ongoing period of isolation, I have rectified a couple of those mistakes.

Through the years I have given quite a bit of time to Pete Astor on these pages. Whether with the Loft, Weather Prophets or the solo albums he's been releasing on Tapete in more recent times, it's obvious he's a musical hero. By the 1990s, Astor's sound had begun to fall out of favor with a fickle and aging indie crowd. The Weather Prophets had dissolved, thanks in part to Creation joining forces with WEA for a few minutes, but Astor continued his relationship with Alan McGee's label by releasing two solo albums, 'Submarine' (1990) and 'Zoo' (1991). By this time, McGee was looking for the hits, and Astor didn't have any on those two albums. McGee suggested a change of scenery. There was a monthly music magazine in France that was big with the university set called Les Inrockuptibles that constantly touted Astor's work. His popularity there led to signing with French indie label Danceteria. Astor released 'Paradise' in 1992 to favorable reviews, and it was bought by the usual suspects and a handful of new fans in France.

I completely missed this album. Thankfully, Tapete reissued it late last year. The 10 songs display Astor's talent as a singer-songwriter, and the sound reminds me a bit of later Lloyd Cole. It's mostly gentle and turned down, and there is a lot of acoustic guitar and even a little twang. The lyrics are brilliant, and standout songs "Almost Falling in Love" and "She Took the TV" are being played daily in this house. There was another album on Danceteria in 1993 before Astor grew tired of the industry and disappeared for quite a while. This story sounds an awful lot like Phil Wilson's, doesn't it? I'm hoping Tapete reissues followup 'God & Other Stories' as well. I'm sure if we all buy 'Paradise,' it will get the Hamburg label's attention. Here is a little taster. That's Felt and Everything But The Girl guitarist Neil Scott taking some of the duties on electric guitar. Back next time with another lost classic from this era.


Daniel said...

Thank you for keeping this great artist and superb √°lbum alive! A bit underrated but keep thinking that this is his best solo effort.

Greetings from Llao Llao, Argentina.

Swiss Adam said...

His previous one was good. Been meaning to check this one out so thanks for the reminder.

Echorich said...

Listening to Peter Astor has a way of resetting your mind. He has a way of clearing the cobwebs with thoughtful Pop.

Brian said...

Welcome, Daniel. You are not alone in lauding this album. While researching have been reading nothing but praise.

SA, Astor has been on a roll. I have a thing for Spilt Milk.

Echorich, Thought I might hear from you. I remember you being a big fan. Take care of yourself down there.