Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Ones That Got Away

The trouble with being a bit of an obsessive and following a broad spectrum of bands and artists is that it is not financially, or indeed physically possible to own everything they release unless you have several storage rooms lying vacant in the East wing. I don’t even own every Beatles album. Luckily, some of my favourite bands have not produced a huge amount of material so it is relatively easy to collect the whole set but my general rule is that I tend to start buying from the early days and then tail off unless they are very special indeed.

Over the years, I have accordingly ignored many later albums from those artists I once followed and it often comes as a bit of a shock to stumble on one of these ‘passed over’ albums much later and find that they are blindingly good.

Such an album is ‘Ultraviolet’ by All About Eve.

I always felt AAE were a cut above the rest when I first heard ‘Our Summer’ on an Indie compilation back in the 1980s and this view was ratified after having purchased their first two albums in the late eighties when they presented a face which matched Julianne Regan’s cut-glass vocals with the then prevalent goth metal/mystic folk sound. However, I became a lapsed fan after guitarist Tim Bricheno left and never looked back, so it was with no little degree of trepidation that I approached their ‘Keepsakes’ 2CD compilation which boasts large chunks of later albums that I failed to buy.

But I needn’t have worried. Whilst all the best moments from the first two albums ‘All About Eve’ and ‘Scarlet and Other Stories’ are present and correct, it is the later material from the albums ‘Touched by Jesus’ and the much maligned 1992 effort, ‘Ultraviolet’, the ones I didn’t buy and now wish that I had, that have really surprised me. The dense, dreamy, shoegazing-meets-psychedelia style tracks from the latter are magnificent slices of post Pink Floyd aural architecture, particularly the trance-like ‘Phased’ and ‘Infrared’ which could be the offspring of a coupling between Syd Barrett’s ‘Astronomy Domine’ and ‘Echoes’. And to think I nearly missed out on this stuff.

Unfortunately, ‘Ultraviolet’ was an unmitigated disaster in the shops and MCA dropped AAE and promptly deleted the album from their catalogue soon after its release (thus keeping eBay in funds for years after). More fool them for it is an enjoyable listen and even Julianne jokes that AAE were a great band ‘70% of the time’. The 70% must cover this album. It is still unavailable, but 6 of the 11 tracks are available on ‘Keepsakes’ which certainly is available, so give ‘em a listen.

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