heard on the wire

Sound unheard


During a conversation at a recent work night out, I suggested that there are some records you’ll buy “sight unseen”, or should that be “sound unheard”.

These are the records from artists you implicitly trust no to squander their talent on sprawling, coke-fuelled triple albums. It’s a trust earnt over many years, bought with a succession of LPs and singles that never once truly disappointed.

My list includes Half Man Half Biscuit, New Order, The Fall, The Wedding Present and David Gedge’s occasional dalliances with Cinerama, Laura Cantrell, Billy Bragg and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Thus, recent releases from the last two on this list found their way into my vinyl collection without a moment’s hesitation on my part. And true to form, neither disappoints.

The new Billy Bragg record is a collaboration with Joe Henry, the American Americana artist who produced Bragg’s previous LP, Tooth and Nail. I’m not sure Henry adds much, save for some softening backing vocals, but the effect on this cover of a Jean Ritchie tune is sublime.

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry // The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore

Nick Cave’s latest is his most challenging to date. Recorded after the death of his son, the record has a bleak beauty that repays several listenings.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds // Girl in Amber

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