Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dave Rotheray – The Life of Birds (and a bit about a book about Record Shops)

I’ve been getting all sorts of albums pinging into my inbox recently (a lot of companies seem to be scrapping the old promo discs what the hell am I going to give people for Christmas eh?). The latest – and one of the best – is from former Beautiful South lyricist and guitarist Dave Rotheray who, after releasing a couple of albums with Homespun (basically Dave and Sam Brown) is now doing his own thang. Actually although it’s a solo album in name it features ten different guest vocalists including Alasdair Roberts, Camille O’Sullivan and the truly awesome Eliza Carthy. The Beautiful South were responsible for some of the best ‘grown up’ pop songs of the last 30 years, so it’s no surprise that Dave’s debut has that familiar quality feel (plus a whole bunch of South-isms...that piano’s particularly reminiscent of prime South). Tackling such cheery subjects as puberty and Alzheimers (and everything in between) it features some really great tracks and performances including Jim Causley’s jaunty opening and closing numbers The Sparrow, The Thrush and the Nightingale (parts I and II), The Road to the South (one of Eliza’s most emotive vocal performances to date) and Flying Lessons (an instantly catchy country tinged track featuring the sultry vocals of ex-Monkey Swallows the Universe vocalist Nat Johnson).

If you want to hear the whole thing you’ll have to wait until August, but you can catch a track or two on Dave’s Facebook page right now. Good old Facebook eh, it’s not just there for stalking/bullying people and pretending how great your life is. Anyways, it’s well worth a listen. Even better why not buy the thing from your local record independent shop when it comes out (if you can find one). Funnily enough I’ve just read a cracking book called 'Last Shop Standing' which, by a strange quirk of fate is published by the same company that’s releasing this album (Proper Records). It tells the story of the decline and fall of the nation’s record shops, of which there are now (almost literally) just a handful left. I’ve banged on about the lost pleasures of the ‘physical’ musical product and the joys of rifling through acres of vinyl before, but if you’re under 20 you’ll probably thing I’m being a boring old I’ll shut up. Suffice to say that the book reveals some distinctly shady dealings by the big record labels and supermarkets. Boo! Hiss! Down with the ‘man’ etc.

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