Monday, 10 December 2012

Desert Island Discs 84 Horsebreaker Star by Grant McLennan

84 - Horsebreaker Star by Grant McLennan 1994

The only double lp on my list and part of me still wonders if this should be a lot higher. I guess it is here as although I love the solo lps there is a sense of sugar without the spice that made the Gobetwens so good . Also as ever with double lps there is a sense that in every great double and perfect single exists.

"I wanted it to be the kind of record that could be played by anyone, but not too obvious. You know, the London Symphony Orchestra doesn't have to do the ballads, Johnny Cash doesn't have to do the country songs. I don't like to be that predictable. I like surprises,"

As ever the lp sold poorly but it is full of delights and whilst not as extreme as the Triffids Black Swan the lp is a mix of styles and surprises. The overall feel is more American than anything else he had done or did since.

Sixties pop , sat along side acoustic ballads , mixed with Americana and a shot of country all over 24 tracks

As ever with his lyrics you are never sure which are from personal experience and which are Carver like short stories and character portraits. Although one thing this that is consistent is his ear for melody that makes his songs instantly familiar.

My favourite track is this one and I used to think it was addressed to Robert Forster and read into that a reunion was on the cards ( the desperation of a male fan!) which did happen eventually but listening back I think I was reading a hell of a lot more into it than was intended

Coming up for Air - Grant McLennan

Disc one is consistently tremendous  whereas the second disc has 2 or 3  misfires strangely all in a row, which makes them feel like an odd little blemish rather than a temptation to hit the skip button

As usual the lp seems to be going for silly money but you can get some second hand copies here and it is worth it for  such peerless songwriting


  1. This one was a brave move for GM, travelling to Athens, Georgia to record in just a few days with John Keane and a bunch of session musicians he'd never even met. The results are a terrific album, with as you said, a great variety of musical styles, but generally quite country flavoured. The banjo, fiddle, pedal steel all contributed to a fresh new sound, while still sounding very Grant. Syd Straw's BGV's seem to spark some of Grant's best vocals. The only problem may be that it was a bit too sprawling, and lacked the real standout tunes found on his other releases.
    I had a hard time picking a GM album, and this one was in the running for sure, but I finally opted for a different one. Much, much higher on my list...

    #84 - BROOKVILLE - Broken Lights (2009)

    - Hey Phil, we're on the same page! I also like Brookville a tad better than Ivy, although Andy Chase isn't nearly as cute as his wife (lead singer of Ivy), and he probably could use auto-tune to polish up his vocals, but I'm glad he doesn't. Andy did an amazing job producing "Trashcan Sinatras" last album, and his cover versions are inspired (see 'Haunted House' sampled below by guess who? Hint: see above!). I couldn't find the studio clips I wanted for this album, but here are some decent samples...

    Haunted House:
    Great Mistake:
    Break My Heart (remix):

  2. Adored Grant; 'Perry and Simone' was on the iPod when I read about his passing.
    Some fine stuff on the album; actually like the sprawling nature of it all; a box of jewels with a few faux glass diamonds... felt like some were rushed; surely time and money restrictions; still adds to the vulnerable intimacy...

  3. 'Simone and Perry' of course.
    The 'Come see the paradise' line is always a chocker...

  4. This is probably my favourite album from Grant.He's a great songwriter, touching and intelligent lyrics with strong melodies. For me ,what stops his albums being great is his singing.I find myself imagining someone else singing his songs ( Roddy Frame, James Grant )
    Tim - I think Ivy produced the best covers album of all time with 'Guesthouse'. Go Betweens, Orange Juice, Blow Monkeys and if you splash out of the Japanese CD, Prefab Sprout.
    #84 from me is Teenage Fanclub - Songs From Northern Britain
    Hard choice but I think this is their strongest set of songs.

  5. Hi tim will be checking out brookville
    Totally agree trev it is the roughness around the edges that make it so beguiling
    Phil we agree on a lot, but not on gmc voice! Need to listen to songs from as only got bandwagonesque and howdy which featured came in earlier


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