• palace of light Beginning Here & Travelling Outward (double CD, £13.50)

    label: Hanky Panky Records

    As Stewart Lee points out in his notes for this long overdue reissue, the 80’s were different times. You had to live through them to “convey to the contemporary consumer the sheer unknowable mysteriousness of recently distant popular culture in the pre-internet age… Arthur Lee’s name was just a cryptic lyric in a Lloyd Cole single, Bert Jansch was ignored once a month in the back room of my local, and the idea that Nick Drake would one day soundtrack a Volkswagen Cabrio advert was absurd.” You could describe the Palace of Light by simply mentioning those names, or others like Scott Walker, the Go-Betweens and Cyrus Faryar. But while those references should be taken as a compliment, they can undermine the Palace of Light’s unique talent and greatness. At a time when drum machines and synthesizers ruled the airwaves, the music they recorded was unlike anything else on offer: the unashamedly epic vocals of Geoff Smith, the string quartet, the intricate acoustic picking and the twin guitar interplay that nodded to Television, Felt or Quicksilver Messenger Service. “Beginning Here And Travelling Outward” was light years ahead, in terms of content and production, of the debut recordings of virtually any other band of the era. The album got some great reviews, but though the band played a bunch of live shows in London and did some more recordings no more music would be released as the Palace of Light. With the addition of new drummer Tom Anthony (replacing Charlie Llewellin), Geoff Smith, Matt Gale and Mark Brend quietly morphed into Mabel Joy. In 1993 they released an album on Bam Caruso, the marvelous “Wish I Was” – also reissued by Hanky Panky Records – and disappeared shortly afterwards. Matt and Mark went on to record two fine albums as Fariña in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Charlie joined the Austin alt country combo the Gourds and recently played with a reformed Maximum Joy. These days Matt composes classical music, while Geoff is working on new material. But Mark has been the most prolific. In recent years his sonic explorations as Ghostwriter have gained him much critical acclaim, and he is also a noted music writer, having authored four books so far. It’s now the 30th anniversary of the original release of “Beginning Here And Travelling Outward” and along with the remastered album, this Expanded Edition includes one rare B-side from the “City Of Gold” 12”; a bunch of previously unreleased studio recordings and demos recorded between 1987 and 1989; six live tracks recorded for a shelved mini-album on Bam Caruso (covers of Nick Drake, Tom Rush, Mickey Newbury, Tim Hardin…); the rare 1991”Catherine/Books single, privately pressed by the group and credited to Mabel Joy (reissued by Spring Records in 2011); and a brand new recording made in 2016 by the original lineup. TRACK LISTING CD1 1.- Safer 2.- City Of Gold 3.- Silver Thread 4.- Wind Brushed Soft 5.- Return To You 6.- See You Fall 7.- Watch Rome Burn 8.- If She Should Blame Him 9.- Hell Games 10.- Bitter Seal 11.- Unknowing 12.- A Siren Serene / CD2 1.- Bright Island 2.- Carrickfergus 3.- If You See Her 4.- No Regrets 5.- Northern Sky 6.- Reason To Believe 7.- Weightless Crown8.- So Simple 9.- Lost 10.- Books 11.- The Way Home 12.- Wish I Was 13.- Never Sleep 14.- Catherine 15.- Theory of Everything

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