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What's Left in the Songbook?
« : 21.02.20 at 21:18 »
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The very welcome news that Pete is considering recording an album with Simon Wallace made me wonder what unreleased Atkin/James songs deserve recording. I came up with the following list of "orphans." If you have your own picks, please share them!  
Many of these songs date from the very early years of Clive and Pete's partnership and perhaps were considered juvenalia by them later on, but I think several are worth revisiting. Here's my list:
 
As if I Cared
 
You Are the Music
 
The Paper Wing Song
 
My Dreams Are Troubled
 
Travel in a Tear
 
A Long Way to Go in the Morning
 
The Party's Moving On
 
If I Had My Time Again
 
I'll Have to Think About it
 
(I've Got) Special Glasses
 
The Pressure Boys
 
The King is Dead
 
I Wouldn't Hear A Word Against The Spring
 
The Architect (Of The Towers)
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S J Birkill
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Re: What's Left in the Songbook?
« Reply #1: 22.02.20 at 09:08 »
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I'm with you there, Ihsan. Pete's first recordings of the New Era, The Lakeside Sessions, represented his attempt to Hoover up the best of the songs which seemed otherwise at risk of being lost, and present them as properly produced recordings. For those two CDs he could choose from the very best: the great songs written, demo'd and occasionally performed during the mid-1970s which would, things having been different, have made up his seventh LP: Canoe, Search And Destroy, The Eye Of The Universe, Commercial Traveller, Urban Guerilla and the rest. But to those he could add the other unrecorded 'greats' from that period: History And Geography, A Dream Of Fair Women, Femme Fatale, You Alone Will Be My Last Adventure, A Man Who's Been Around, and more. Plus the best of the left-over jewels from the Cambridge period: More In Anger Than In Sorrow, With Me It Goes Deeper, Get It Out Of Your Head, Sudden Arrivals, Trophies, You Better Face it Boy, Let's Try The Whole Thing Again -- an easy double-album's worth saved from oblivion.
 
Then by 2003 Clive was on the case and we encountered his more mellow late-period songs. Some may have been in gestation for some time, but others were undeniably brand-new. Give or take one or three oldies in the mix, we can hear the results on Winter/Spring and The Colours Of The Night -- on the latter Pete included 'The Beautiful Changes', previously only recorded by Julie Covington, 'Cottonmouth' from the mid-'70s demos, and 'You Better Face It Boy' from the Footlights era.
 
It would be most satisfying if Pete were to collect the best of the remaining 'orphans' into a new CD. I haven't asked him about this, but his comment in yesterday's newsletter suggests two different types of material. I might have expected him to be considering a set of covers to be given the Atkin/Wallace interpretation: Steely Dan's 'Razor Boy' or 'Deacon Blues', something by Rodgers and Hart, Randy Newman, Brian Wilson, Jesse Winchester or Steven Page; but his mention of a Songbook Volume 2 puts us right back into Clive James territory.
 
When first I contacted Pete in 1996 I'd asked him about a song ('How Like You This?') which I'd heard Julie sing on London Weekend TV's late-night revue show What Are You Doing After The Show, and, home taping (at least mine) being what it was in 1970, I'd been slow to hit the 'Record' button and missed the first line. He got straight back to me with the missing words; I knew we'd be able to work together.
 
I like your 'orphans' list -- you've included the best from the private albums. I'd probably vote down 'Special Glasses' as juvenalia, as you put it -- most of the lighter revue numbers (if Pete even remembers them) would probably attract that tag. 'The Architect' might not be one of their best; but I'd chuck in 'The Sun Was In My Eyes', 'How Like You This?' and 'Worlds Apart'. Yes, 'The Pressure Boys' probably deserves a place on account of its '7th-album' heritage, though it's not a personal favourite. 'The New Me', 'A Girl Can't Grumble' and especially 'Queen Of Lights' are good songs but hard to masculinize convincingly. The others from Julie's album are too good to exclude: 'Don't Bother Me Now', 'The Standards Of Today', 'For Instance' and 'Winter Kept Us Warm'.
 
Not looking too good for a single album, is it? I think we need a separate 'Songs for Julie' CD in addition to the 'Songbook Vol.2' !
 
As we must count ourselves unduly fortunate to get even one CD's worth, my ideal song list (as of today and in no particular order) would be:
 
Definite:
  • The Standards Of Today
  • How Like You This?
  • The Sun Was In My Eyes
  • The Paper Wing Song
  • Worlds Apart
  • I Wouldn't Hear A Word Against The Spring
  • If I Had My Time Again
  • The King Is Dead
  • My Dreams Are Troubled
  • The Party's Moving On
  • A Long Way To Go In The Morning
  • I'll Have To Think About it
  • Travel In A Tear
  • You Are The Music
 
Spares:
  • As If I Cared
  • Queen Of Lights
  • Winter Kept Us Warm
  • The New Me
  • A Girl Can't Grumble
  • The Go-Away Man
  • The Pressure Boys
  • Golden Child
  • Special Glasses
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Don't Bother Me Now
  • For Instance

Oh yes, and a special mention for 'The TV Screen Is The Only Light' -- sadly just a fragment, but the melody, which I heard Pete noodling one time at a rehearsal, really appealed to me.
 
Steve
« Last Edit: 29.02.20 at 01:45 by S J Birkill »    share
Rob Spence
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Re: What's Left in the Songbook?
« Reply #2: 08.03.20 at 23:11 »
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There are untold (and unheard) riches here, Steve. What a treat it would be to have proper recordings of these gems.
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