Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Desert Island Discs 5 High Land Hard Rain by Aztec Camera

5 High Land Hard Rain by Aztec Camera 1983

As we get higher up the chart it becomes less about the music and more about wanting my desert island to be full of memories. When this came out I was 16 a year younger than Roddy Frame and whereas Bowie came from a different planet with an box full of history here was someone virtually my age. When I first heard this lp (I was a tad late , it was after Oblivious became a hit) I knew that this is what music should be about and it became a template for a large chunk of my record collection.

It also crystalised the need to get away. There was the boy wonder making records and here was I stuck in the fens , dodging skinheads on a Saturday night  and drinking vodka and orange cordial in the imaginatively named Wine Bar hoping not to get rumbled as underage drinkers

Over the next  2 years it was the core record against which all others were judged. Listening back then the lyrics can drift towards 6th form poetry at times and the production is a bit woolly in places, but despite being 30 years old it holds up really well.

I loved everything about it and felt it had it all. Right from the cover art of David Band  (now sitting framed on our dining room wall) down to the quotable lyrics and frantically strummed big guitars. The only thing I was never certain of was the fringed western jacket and checked shirts look.

The lp had everything love , politics , loneliness. The lush big number , the catchy pop song , the acoustic strum and a trio of singles that put a lot of bands to shame.

Here are 2 live songs , almost 30 years apart. Forgetting the slightly higher hair line Roddy Frame must have a dodgy painting locked in the attic.

"despite what they'll say
it wasn't youth we hit the truth"

Oblivious is a such a gloriously catchy single. One of those songs that when it comes on the radio or mp3 player , I still will turn it up , stop talking and start listening and smiling

Big choruses mix effortlessly with quieter more reflective moments.

One of my favourites is the big ballad We Could Send Letters. Like all good songs you can rewrite it to your own meaning. For me it was always about some home town romance broken by going away to college

You said you're free, for me that says it all.
You're free to push me and I'm free to fall.
So if we weaken we can call it stress,
You've got my trust I've got your home address.
And now the only chance that we could take,
Is the chance that someone else won't make it all come true.

I'll end with in his own words and acoustic punk song

If for some strange reason you don't have this lp then you can get it in an expanded version with questionable 12" mixes and top notch b sides here


  1. Classic. I used to listen to 'We Could Send Letters' over and over. The first chorus that lifts to an even better second one... He was great live then too... a charismatic little cuss. He's retreated ever since; getting quieter by the year. Do you think he shares a squat with Paddy?

  2. A brilliant record. A record that the American market never understood...this only made it an even more importanta album to me. I remember there were reviews out at the time that said deriding things like over produced, lost the Postcard magic and the like...tosh! There isn't a duff track on the album and it makes me smile everytime I listen to it.

  3. 'High Land Hard Rain' is a great pick. Catchy stuff. Almost as good as Stray!

    #5 - JONES - "HOPELAND" (2009)

    To every prayer an answer
    For every crow a dove
    To every life a promise
    To every child, love.
    I just want to give you something to remember me by
    I just want to give you... give you love.

    - I've already touched on this during the MM/Jones Top 5 series. Warning: heavy stuff ahead... 'Hopeland' was released amidst a most harrowing period of my life. My wife had just been diagnosed with rapidly spreading stage 4 incurable cancer & was suffering through ravaging surgery/chemo treatments. Doctors were brutally honest about chances of survival... very low. Devastated, overwhelmed, I was barely hanging on. Previous anchors of religion & philosophy offered cold comfort.

    'Hopeland'... a little history. March 2010 - Looking for distraction from turmoil and painful reality, I decided to surf the Net and check out the Miracle Mile site. To my surprise Max had completely revamped the whole thing. Trev's mug welcoming the home page accompanied by absolutely enchanting new music - "Bluer Skies Than This". Wow! Proceeding to the main site, greeted by the heavenly strains of "Hopeland"... The comfort of song, healing for the hopeless and broken soul. The timing couldn't have been better...

    So there's a lot of emotional baggage that accompanies my #5 pick. The words & music connect very deeply. I'm certain my take on the lyrics do not reflect the original inspiration or intention, but that's the magic of music, isn't it? We can adopt our own interpretations, and make them our own. Regardless, it's simply a stunning piece of art. The union of music and poetry makes for a perfect late night listen, but I must confess that I created an edited version (lacking verse) for the car. It's a truly beautiful collection on it's own. Every song has special meaning for me, and my wife loves Hopeland and MM/Jones music as much as I do. I won't dissect the album, as I'm sure all here know it by heart.

    Footnote: 3 years on and my wife Myrna continues to thrive, defying all odds. We're still kinda living in limbo, but we're squeezing every moment out of life. I still have the lyrics of "Hopeland" posted on my bulletin board, a potent reminder... to hope.

    Thanks Trev...

  4. I love that you love my music TT; humbled and honored and happy that it's made such a connection.
    Great to heart that Myrna's doing well Tim. Flip to say I know but... we take a lot for granted in this life; good health in particular. You two do seem to be 'going for it'. How very human that we often need a drama to refocus us onto the glories... Myrna's progress is inspirational stuff. Buy her a Tequila Sunrise from me...
    Trev x

  5. thank you for that comment Tim and here's to the future

  6. A truly fantastic album. Not one song is less than great , made all the more unbelievable because it came from one so young. But as you know I love another Roddy album even more...
    Tim - I had no idea that you've been through such a traumatic time with your wife. I hope the worst is behind you and only bluer skies lie ahead.
    #5 Love and Money - Dogs in the Traffic. Even though James Grant has had some fine moments during his solo career, for me he's never recorded anything quite as wonderful as this.

  7. A fine choice Phil. I actually thought that it was a Grant solo album as the accent is on the songs.
    I'd condemned L & M as blues/rock traditionalists until TT corrected me.
    I'm still standing in the corner with my hands on my head.
    Hope to be out by summer...
    When does summer start?

    1. Bad news trev summer was 2 days at the start of may we are now in autumn

  8. Snow & frost here in Toronto yesterday. Global warming my ass... Where's that coward Al Gore hiding?

    Nice pick Phil. Confirms 'Dogs' as the people's choice. As I get older, I'll probably lean away from the funk/rock of 'Strange Kind Of Love' towards this one. But I hope to remain funky!

    Also, really appreciate all the kind wishes...

  9. Glad to hear that the 'global' is warming your ass TT.
    What's a 'global'?
    I'm guessing an archaic two bar electric fire that you colonials still use out in the sticks... no?


  11. I'm really excited to see what four albums you deemed better than this one. Today's pick is absolute perfection.

    1. Hi Brian - I think 3 are pretty predictable and one maybe will raise a few eyebrows


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