Vinyl love: Blur “The special collector’s edition”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Blur
Album Title: The special collector’s edition
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2023
Details: RSD 2023 reissue, 2 x LP, Light blue translucent

The skinny: Long gone are the days when I would set the alarm to wake up early, drive downtown, and queue up in a massive line at one of my favourite independent record stores for a chance at purchasing one of that year’s Record Store Day exclusives. In fact, there have been some years in the last handful where I haven’t even ventured out at all and instead, tried and generally succeeded at tracking down some of the exclusives online. This year, though, I decided to head out for the festivities* in person, albeit arriving at the respectable hour of 11 am, instead of 7:30 am, when the employees at the store I chose to visit opened up early to a ridiculous amount of waiting customers. I had my own eye out for a couple of the special releases and yesterday, found one of the two at Compact Music, and so after flipping through the rest of that store’s wares on the racks**, I returned home satisfied with my limited participation. Then, last night, I gave Blur’s “The special collector’s edition” a proper spin for the first time and quite enjoyed it. Originally released as a Japan-only release back in 1994, this b-sides collection, from what I would consider the best period of one of my favourite bands, featured some tracks with which I was already familiar*** but others that I had never at all heard before. For even more fun, the artwork plays upon magazine pull out adverts for collector’s edition memorabilia that I always though no one ever purchased. Twenty-four hours and two full spins later, I am still quite pleased with my Record Store Day purchase.

Standout track: “When the cows come home”

*Unlike last year when I went out a day afterwards and still found what I was looking for.

**And finding a non-RSD exclusive to bring home with me.

***Including the above tune, a hidden track on the CD copy I had of 1993’s “Modern life is rubbish”, and one of my favourites on that particular album.


Vinyl love: Various Artists “Caught beneath the landslide”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Various Artists
Album Title: Caught beneath the landslide
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, ‘Indies only’, double LP, clear

The skinny: Not counting film soundtracks, I only have three compilations on my record shelves* and that’s already three more than I ever thought I’d ever have when I first starting collecting vinyl. This particular compilation didn’t jump out at me when I first started seeing it pop up in my mailing lists from the various record vendors I’ve frequented over the years… that is, until I happened upon the track listing. And then, the salivation started in earnest. You see, I’ve always had a soft spot for Britpop and those years in the mid-90s when everything coming out of England was golden (or fool’s golden). “Caught beneath the landslide” was put together as companion piece to a photobook by former NME photographer Kevin Cummins that shared some of his iconic snaps from the era. The tracklist features a who’s who of those artists associated with the Britpop term but instead of the obvious picks by each, it collects together alternate versions, remixes, b-sides, covers, and rarites. I opted for the ‘Indie only’ version in clear vinyl because… clear vinyl. And this particular sucker for Britpop, loves everything about it.

Standout track: “Ciao!” by Lush with Jarvis Cocker

*The other two are the Frightened Rabbit tribute compilation “Tiny changes” and the very excellent, “Warchild – Help album”, another Britpop heavy record.


100 best covers: #53 Suede “Shipbuilding”

<< #54    |    #52 >>

I’ve already written bits about the Help Warchild album a couple of times for this series. Songs from this, my favourite ever compilation, have already appeared at number 100 and number 74 on this list and here we are again, this time with Suede’s cover of Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding”.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea this was a cover. Given how quickly the Help album was recorded and released*, the CD copy of the compilation that I purchased used from Penguin Music the year after its release had almost nothing in the way of liner and production notes. I was also still something of a newbie when it came to Suede. I had obviously heard of them, their eponymously titled glam rock debut, and had fallen hard for “My insatiable one” off the “So I married an axe murderer” soundtrack, as well as the “We are the pigs” single off their sophomore release “Dog man star”. Still, I was a few months shy of the full on love affair with their third record, “Coming up”.

I only discovered the original when I finally decided it was time to explore the work of Elvis Costello a decade or so later. It appeared on a Best Of compilation that I tracked down and recognized it immediately as track eight from Warchild. The music was originally written by Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt but unhappy with his own lyrics, he approached Costello to refine them. The song was a reaction to the Falklands war and played on the irony that shipbuilding towns would see a modicum of resurgence while its fighting age sons would be sent off to fight and perhaps die.

Costello’s original is a hip and jazzy number, emboldened by a trumpet solo by Chet Baker. The musicianship is tremendous and you can’t argue with those phenomenal lyrics** but there is something just a bit more suave and swank about Brett Anderson, no? In his and Suede’s hands, it’s a bit more of a rock ballad, heavy on the bass and the piano, and though the trumpet still appears, it’s more muted.

Yeah, I dig Elvis Costello. But I love Suede. I’m going with the cover here.


The original:

*All within eight days!!!

**Elvis Costello himself has said that these were some of the best lyrics he had ever written

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.