There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Look, the title is taken from an iconic Smiths song, and the album cover mimics the art of my favorite Smiths release, Hatful of Hollow. There is no way I wasn’t going to buy this MOJO magazine compilation. Of course, there is no real connection to the Smiths on the album – the liner notes shamelessly claim this to be “a snapshot of the scene they dominated for five years” and acknowledges that the album collects songs from the Smiths’ “contemporaries.” Which is fine, because this is a pretty good comp, and I have almost all the Smiths I need, anyway.

What I Think of This Album

I know for sure that I own four of these fifteen tracks already, and it’s possible I own a couple more on my indie-pop box sets. And in fact, I’ve already covered the Billy Bragg, Close Lobsters, and Weather Prophets songs found on this collection, and I will eventually get to the Go-Betweens (in a year, maybe?). So I’m going to skip over them, except I will point out that all of those songs are excellent.

The remainder of the album is just as strong. Highlights include Hurrah!’s “Sweet Sanity,” driven by emotional lead vocals. Hurrah! opened for U2 and Bowie and released two studio albums, with a “lost” third album being issued in 2010. I am sure I have a Woodentops song on more than one comp, possibly even the claustrophobic, paranoid “Well Well Well,” which sounds like a band caving in on itself (with a strong debt to Suicide; parts of Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod” also remind me of this song). The bassist for the Woodentops was Frank deFreitas, who was the brother of Echo and the Bunnymen drummer Pete deFreitas; guitarist Rolo McGinty was in the Wild Swans and the Jazz Butcher; and, just to close the loop, Pete deFreitas played on the debut Wild Swans single (though I don’t know if McGinty was in the band at that time).

The Nightingales’s “Crafty Fag” is even more unhinged than the Woodentops song, replete with sharp corners, disorienting drums, and frenetic vocals. Perhaps the most fun song here is the Flatmates’ “I Could Be In Heaven,” which is a sugar rush of jangly guitars, rapid fire drums, cooing backing vocals, and a beach party/girl-group vibe; they never released a studio album. The awkwardly monikered Martin Stephenson and the Daintees offer the blandly enjoyable “Crocodile Cryer,” though I could do without the keyboard solo.

Interest returns in the form of the sardonic, bleakly humorous “How I Learned to Love the . . . Bomb,” by the Television Personalities. I never got into the La’s –  I never liked Lee Mavers’s voice – but “Open Your Heart” isn’t terrible. I also did not care for the Blue Aeroplanes and “Action Painting” doesn’t convince me that I was wrong.

I’ve already written about the Dentists, but not about song “Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden (and It’s Wintertime),” which is from their earlier, more psychedelic days. Finally, the Chesterfields’ anxious and jittery “Completely and Utterly” is a nice, jangly tune with a great vocal at the end. The only song I need to skip here is the one by Felt.

The Best Thing About This Album

Oh, “I Could Be In Heaven,” for sure.

Release Date

October, 2012

The Cover Art

Like I said, it’s based on the Smiths’ compilation Hatful of Hollow, and it’s a decent homage but nothing more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑