15 February 2006

Overlooked Albums from the 90's - #19

Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column

Like two of the previous selections, I first started listening to this artist as a result of my love for The Smiths. Basically, The Durutti Column is Vini Reilly and yes, he's the same Vini Reilly who played guitar on Morrissey's Viva Hate. So you can maybe now start to see why I wanted to check out The Durutti Column in the first place. I mean, the guitar work on Viva Hate was pretty darn neat and my quest to completely beat to death any possible musical connections to The Smiths would never be complete without buying at least a couple of Durutti Column albums. Plus, Vini happened to have been the guitarist in Morrissey's first attempt at lead vocal stylings in the band The Nosebleeds.

I ran across an article about Vini and The Durutti Column that's worth a read, if you have any interest go HERE, or you can check out this interesting bit about the Viva Hate sessions:

Brought in to be the guitarist and keyboard player under producer Stephen Street, Vini found himself immediately unhappy at the situation: "I've no wish to criticise him [Street], but the songs that he had written, the chord structures were so banal and unbelievably trite that I said I would only make the album and be part of it if I could rewrite every note of every song from scratch." Amazingly, they agreed, although contractually Street had to keep his writing credits. Vini went through and re-arranged everything, deconstructing every track except single Suedehead. Vini found the experience incredibly enjoyable, even though it required learning a completely different recording discipline to one he was used to. "I enjoyed the challenge of it really. Some of them were so abstract that they barely existed and it was only when the backing track was completed and Morrissey came in and did his lyrics over the top of it and sang that you could tell where the verse and chorus were. Because up until that point the verse could have been the chorus and the chorus could have been the verse. There was no structure. And then I'd adjust the pieces to make them make sense."
Okay, back to The Durutti Column. Let me tell you, this music is not really for everyone. Not really for that many people period, which would explain why it's been 'overlooked'. It's avant-garde rock and I think that most folks will quickly tire of the heavy-on-delay guitar noodling that dominates each and every Durutti Column album. Of course, that's just Vini being Vini but surely isn't for all tastes. The thing is, if you can get past the initial annoyance you'll find some really fantastic music. Genius music even. Do you remember the part in 24 Hour Party People when there's nobody in the Hacienda and there's a dude playing guitar on stage...Tony Wilson defends the guys as "a genius"...? Anyway, that's meant to be Vini/The Durutti Column and, in fact, the real Vini Reilly makes a cameo in the film.

So, where does that leave us? I've posted three tracks from the album here. The first, "Pigeon" will give you the most honest impression of what Vini's music generally sounds like. Something along the lines of 'extremely talented musician bores himself playing simple, catchy tunes and gravitates towards more complex guitar stylings'. In fact, "Pigeon" is (according to the official Durutti Column site) "inspired by and structurally similar Peter Green's 'Albatross'". The second and third tracks are two of my three favorites on the album (the third, which I did not upload, being "Sing to Me"). They feature the hauntingly beautiful voice of Eley Rudge (she guests on five songs on this album and a few other Durutti Column records) and are truly top-notch. In fact, "Drinking Song" has been a favorite staple of mine when making mix-cds for people since I first got this album in 1998. Now you too can wow people by including this song in your own mixes.

(this album is not easy to find in stores, or anywhere else, so you might want to try Amazon UK or EBay, though there aren't any copies currently listed on EBay)

Listen:
Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM

if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list

Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s

3 comments:

Tim Young said...

I think I made the same journey as you at the same time! I went and bought the album that came with the silly 'I know very well how i got my note wrong' single and it was downhill from there.

Vini is such a talented guitarist.

Nice call!

the face of today

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