76 Shoebox Full of Secrets by Andy Pawlak 1989
The bastard child of Prefab Sprout and Aztec Camera, Andy Pawlak's debut lp is a real lost gem. Already mentioned by Phil In his top 125 I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that everytime you hear it you just wonder why it wasn't more successful.
It has that smoother than smooth production that a lot of Scottish pop had in the late 80s
This was an lp that I bought in the sale bin almost purely on the basis of the cover (it reminded me of Everything But the Girl's Love Not Money and Deacon Blue's Raintown). I've had a lot of misses doing this but struck gold with Shoebox. As I've written before, it is full of gorgeous melodies, clever lyrics and memorable songs. I always felt that if he had taken the Roddy Frame route and given himself a band name then I think he would have got a lot more exposure. I struggle to understand how he had such a low profile. The songs on the lp are certainty chart friendly whilst subtle enough to remind me of the smoother Prefab Sprout tracks as well as bands like Love and Money and the Blow Monkeys.
Here are a couple of examples.
Mermaids shows him at his poppy best
White Eagle is a ballad to melt to
hard to find , there are a couple of 2nd hand copies here. If you like the Bible , Love and Money , and the other late 80s usual suspects then I'm pretty sure you'll love this it is a lost classic
As the xmas pudding settles here are my top 10 books read this year. There are a couple I've got to late , one very late
10 - Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - a warm funny and wise family history told from the point of view of a hermaphrodite
9 - Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell - 12 books across 4 volumes and 3000 pages took me all year to read . A social history of the first 3/4 of the 20th century
8 - Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzra - interlocking stories across centuries with faith and belief as the theme. Kind of like a californian Cloud Atlas
7 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - coming of age novel with a real heart
6 Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn - the morals and the manners of the upper classes. A welcome antidote to Downton Abbey with Princess Margaret making a very funny guest appearance
5 The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson - what happens when performance art gets in the way of parental responsibilities. A wes Anderson film waiting to happen
4 Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich - Another coming of age novel , snigger out loud funny and one of the most memorable main characters I've read in ages
3 The Sister Brothers by Patrick DeWitt - A western , no come back , more Coen brothers True Grit than Clint
2 The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - a baseball book for people who know nothing about baseball
1 The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - a modern myth that just stays the right side of twee