February 5th sees Firestation Records’ release of A retrospective by Emily, on both double CD and vinyl. I was asked to pen the sleeve notes, and happily obliged, what with ‘Stumble’ being among my favourite ever singles, and Rub al Khali one of my favourite ever LPs. It’s the first time on CD for both the single and the album.
Expertly transferred from vinyl (as opposed to inexpertly by me, which had initially threatened to be the case) owing to the master tapes being lost, the three songs from the ‘Stumble’ single sound fantastic, better than I could possibly have hoped. Rub al Khali also benefits from the absence of snap, crackle and pop, and remains a thing of wonder, as timeless and out of time now as it was when it was released 25 years ago.
If that weren’t enough, A retrospective additionally includes a selection of demos of varying sound quality and excellence, ranging from the group’s earliest recordings through to ‘You don’t say you need that’, a song which dates from long after Rub al Khali and gives a sense of what might have been had the album – not to mention singer-songwriter Ollie Jackson’s talent – garnered the attention it deserved. A number of otherwise unrecorded live favourites also grace the compilation, including ‘Merri-go-round’ in both its early and mature forms, the latter version having been scheduled as Esurient’s follow-up to ‘Stumble’. The track which closes the second CD is another highlight – a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Rachel’, one of the ‘Stumble’ B sides.
What the compilation sadly lacks is the Irony EP which Emily recorded for Creation Records in 1988, but ‘Mad dogs’ at the foot of this post stands in part to remedy that absence. To further whet your appetite, you’ll also find an outtake version of ‘Foxy’, the majestic opening song from Rub al Khali.
I’m proud to have been involved with the putting together of this release, but even if I had not been, I would still be wholeheartedly recommending it to you. Every (Pantry-reading) home should have one.
- Foxy (outtake version)
- Mad dogs (from the Irony EP)
- Really mad dogs (dance mix 1) (from the Something Burning in Paradise compilation)
- Pre-order A retrospective by Emily from Firestation Records (NB The Rub al Khali tracks are not included on the vinyl version of the release)