Monday, 18 March 2013

Desert Island Discs 35 Amplified Heart by Everything But The Girl

35 - Amplified Heart by Everything But the Girl 1994

Now considering I've got pretty much everything EBTG have recorded , b sides and all , this was a relatively straight forward choice. Idlewild pushed it close but in the end suffers from some dodgy 80s production that hasn't dated that well, of the dancey ones , Walking Wounded is great but I've no time for Temperamental. The 1st 3 lps have some soaring moments but all 3 suffer from one track that I have to resist the skip temptation. Language of Life and Worldwide are just a tad too slick.

Amplified Heart is just perfect. A much more folky feel it benefits from some top notch playing (Danny Thompson's bass provides the lps heart) and Tracy Thorn's voice by this lp had matured to its peak. That folky feel was out of synch with the rest of the what was going on , it took a remix/reimagining of Missing to give them their massive hit. I can't help but think that if it had been released over the last few years this one would have been massive.

My love of this lp is also grounded in the fact that I saw them on tour twice about this time and both times they were outstanding.

Not really a singles lp (Todd Terry remix the exception) opening track Rollercoaster sets the lp up for a perfect sunday morning listen

The lp shows the benefit of having 2 songwriters as the quality just doesn't dip.

The expected Ben Watt vocal is give to a song that wouldn't sound out of place on Simon and Garfunkel's repertoire. It's got that melancholic sense of memory and regret down to a tee

25th December - Everything But the Girl

Best thing on the lp is another Ben Watt tune but this time sung by Tracey and one of the saddest songs they've recorded

Two Star - Everything But the Girl

Well, it's not for me to say
But I can't see what you see in him anyway
But such righteousness in me
Is not a nice thing to display
And who am I

For Christ sakes anyway
Oh, to judge a life this way
When my owns in disarray

My owns in disarray
My owns in disarray, hey

And I watch Saturday Kids' TV
Yeah, with the sound turned down
And I leave food on the eiderdown
All my thoughts pushed underground
Maybe you're happy, everyone says you are

You drive around on two star
You leave your life ajar
And God knows you deserve it
Bad luck follows everyone
So go on and stop listening to me

Stop listening to me
And don't ask me how I feel
Don't ask me how I feel

So it's not for me to say
Because I change my mind from day to day
Oh, and when I look at you
I only see bits of myself anyway
So go on and stop listening to me

Stop listening to me
And don't ask me what to say
Or to judge a life this way
When my owns in disarray

My owns in disarray
My owns in disarray, hey
Would love this to have the same re release treatment that the first 3 lps got however reading interviews with both of them this looks highly unlikely, so you can get the original here

on a sep note Tracey Thorns autobiography is out now and you can get it here


  1. Nail hit squarely on the head!! Amplified Heart is all the stars aligning for EBTG. By the time they made this album, they were truly making music on their own terms. Even the foray into dance remix was something they wanted.
    Two Star tussles with Fascination from Eden when I try to decide on my favorite of all their catalogue. 25th of December is one of the most touching songs I know.

  2. Almost tempted to shout "Too Low!" My pick is about 20 steps higher. Amplified Heart is an A-1 pick, and I wrestled with it for my final choice, finally opting for a different one probably because 'Missing' became a hit! Tracy truly possesses the sweetest voice, although I seem to recall grumpy old TJ begs to differ???

    #35 - BRUCE COCKBURN - Dart To The Heart (1994)

    - with 30+ albums under his belt, and still productive, my compatriot Bruce has felt like a fellow-traveller most of my life. Unfortunately, he's never made a perfect album, mostly due the fact that although an astute, gracious & humble soul, he also carries a streak of socio-political righteous anger that seeps into almost all of his work, which for me has always been irksome.

    So I narrowed it down to three that are mainly introspective affairs. 'Humans', 'Dragon's Jaws' and my eventual choice... 'Dart To The Heart'. Probably not his best album, but on a desert island I don't want to be reaching for "Skip" to avoid pestering rhetoric. T-Bone Burnett did a nice job on the previous release 'Nothing But A Burning Light', and may be the perfect collaborator for Bruce, sharing a like-minded world-view, musical tastes & circle of friends. His sympathetic production is organic but elegant and also highlights Cockburn's peerless guitar-playing. I'm already second-guessing my pick, but this is a pretty good one...

    Also posted a long-winded BC profile @ Hissyfit here:

    Closer To The Light:!
    Southland Of The Heart:

  3. I liked the early EBTG stuff but wandered when the beats kicked in; don't know why that was as I did a happy jig when David Gray made a similar sprint for the charts with white ladder. I need to readdress and this album seems the approved re entry point.
    As for Bruce TT, you've nailed my two favourite albums of his with 'Nothing But a Burning Light' and 'Dart'. I'll support his politics to the hilt but I think that protest in undermined by rhyme; there you go, a legion of protest singers dismissed in a beat. What do I know? He does write a pretty tune 'One of the Best Ones' from 'Nothing' is sweet and I love the band's playing on both. Funnily, the album that I played the most of his is 'Speechless' a collection of his instrumentals.
    And 'grumpy'?

  4. Sorry Trev, didn't mean to call you grumpy... I just remember being outraged when you used Tracey's name in the same sentence as that monotone Dido... "Thorn's voice was always the thing that kept it (EBTG) from greatness for me; I know that its strong flavor is the point for many but there's something intangible there that I have trouble with (see also Beth Orton and... erm... Dido)".
    For me, Thorn's voice is sublime and what makes EBTG great, along with Watt's gift for melody/words. It's just a taste issue. You just have bad taste! Ha! Ha!
    As for BC as protest singer... It's how he's so damned 'specific' with his diatribes that annoys me, undermining the timeless quality of a song...

  5. Shot with my own gun; a fair cop sir...
    I have just ordered 'Amplified Heart' and hope to report back soon...
    I know what you mean about BC's hectoring; whenever I hear 'earnest' I just tune out; amazed that I still love MCC. Maybe it's something to do with always fancying the Sunday School teacher...

  6. I'm enjoying my second listen to this. What a crack band! Danny Thompson and even two Thompsons on one track. Undercurrents of Danny's work with John Martyn. Then I left it running on Spotify and discovered a cover of Lights of Tetouan by the peerless Stars of Heaven on the Rollercoaster E.P.. That gets bonus points.

  7. Stars of Heaven now there was a fine band - I've got a very stretched tape somewhere of their stuff -sacred heart hotel??

    Tim your comments on BC mirror mine on Billy Bragg - the songwriter I love , the preacher less so and this is with agreeing with all his sentiments. I love TT's voice but I do think on a few of the early lps the producers didn't do her any favours - I remember live being bowled over with how powerful her voice was
    I agree Echo I think ironically the record label had probably given up on the hits and they end up getting their biggest

    I too remember Trev's words re Dido - glad you have called him to account!!!

    1. I was going to say you can download all the Stars of Heaven stuff from their label's website but I checked the link and it is gone. I don't think I saw any other band as many times. Introduced me to Big Star and Richard Thompson among others. May be putting in an appearance around mine.

    2. As soon as I'd typed the comment I set off on a unfruitful search to find a copy of sacred Heart Hotel

    3. If you send me your address I can send you a copy (seamus dot duggan at gmail dot com)

  8. So that's how you spell 'dot'!

  9. That's a good choice. For me a favourite EBTG album wasn't so clear cut. In the end I opted for another, much higher.
    #35 Furniture - The Wrong People. This has already been and gone, but I will just say again....Should have been huge!

  10. I am interested to see what EBTG everyone else has gone for

    . Furniture ... and so should their follow up as well!

  11. OK, just got this and, by jove, I think I like it.
    I'm remembering why I play acoustic the way I do; with that dull slap between chords; obviously copying Ben from the early acoustic albums.
    My attempt at 'cool' but really just a way of keeping time.
    You should see me dance...
    'I Don't Understand Anything' tops the pile on first listen.
    Thanks for the nudge boys...


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