When I say new releases, I do of course mean that recordings are seeing the light of day many years after they might have. The Jasmines’ Poppy White EP dates from 1992, and sees them trying to pull together a new line-up and salvage the good ship three years after their last, in my opinion underrated LP Scratch the surface. That record has a surprising Americana-esque looseness to it that predates the alt-country explosion of the nineties (there’s even what looks suspiciously like a white clapboard church on its cover), and something of that feel remains in the Poppy White songs, together with the burning feeling ignited by Strummer and Jones with which we more commonly associate the Minks. The stand-out song is ‘Rain’ and you can watch it over at Oatcake, where you can also buy the EP. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Hurrah!’s nine song ‘Lost album’ was recorded in 1991. This being Cherry Red, the package leaves something to be desired. Particularly the sleeve notes, written as they are in the school of PR style. Sleeve notes are supposed to serve a different purpose – we’ve already bought the disc, after all. Paul Weller’s latest also falls victim to this, inclining listeners to take against the album when – without a sleeve note that reads ‘The result is this fourteen track blast of tungsten-tough rock’n’roll, already described by one insider as ‘Stockhausen meets the Small Faces’’ – they would have been happier to reach their own conclusions about it. So it is also with the notes for Hurrah!’s Rebirth of the cool, with its talk of ‘capturing the zeitgeist’ and turning ‘alchemy into hard cash’.
It’s a bittersweet listen. In almost all respects the sound is a vast improvement on The beautiful, but the songs are by and large that record’s inferior (The beautiful is after all the LP that kicks off with ‘Big sky’ and includes ‘Wisdom waits’ and ‘Velveteen’). So I’m not finding it hard to be unsentimental on hearing them, after all these years. I like what I hear, the melodies and the rediscovered Rickenbacker drive of the pre-Arista Hurrah!; but I can still see a better record underneath it all, not that it matters, now. Highlights are Paul Handyside’s ‘Book of love’, and Taffy Hughes’ ‘Bring the curtain down’, which does just that in a fittingly romantic and yearning fashion. Well, okay, I’ll admit there’s the odd tear in my eye as I listen to that one.