Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Compliation albums! Never really given the same kudos as 'proper' studio albums or even 'Live' albums, and yet....there have been a few Compilation albums that have surpassed even the greatest of all studio albums; Lenny Kaye's 'Nuggets' of course, the magisterial 'Pillows & Prayers' and virtually anything on Sarah Records or Bam-Caruso.
But, as far as I am concerned, the most important Comp in my record buying lifetime simply has to be Dan Treacy's Whaam Records catch-all 'All For Art....And Art For All'. This record is one of the very few that ABSOLUTELY changed my life!!
'All For Art....' was released in the Summer of 1984, but I didn't find it till the December of that year. I was going through a 60s psychedelic phase at the time, and when I found this in the record racks I assumed with it's images of Andy Warhol, band names like The Laughing Apple, and song titles like 'Only The Sky Children Know' that this was a collection of obscure 60s tracks. On first play, when I realised it was a contemporary collection, I was a little disappointed, but very quickly the thrill of the music took me over.
This album is bookended by TWO of my Top 10 Favourite songs OF ALL TIME....two EPICS that still make my heart flutter and my head reel furiously....but we'll get to them later.
First, let's deal with The Mixers....their first track on the album, 'Never Find Time' thwacks along driven by a snapping snare that conjures up a tooth-coroding mix of The Jam and The Honeycombs...and is every bit as sweet. Later they serve up 'Love Hurts' laced through with acidic Lalala's....a song SO 1960s it's wearing Cuban Heels.
Next up, The Page Boys.....and a song called 'Honey'. Anachronistic contemporary drum machines and Casio-like keyboards are swept away by a recurring 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah' motif (starting to get the picture?). A song that manages to sound 60s and 80s in the same three minutes.
Tangerine Experience's 'Only The Sky Children Know' probably sounds exactly like you imagine. Like some huge Prog Rock anthem played by sussed hep-cats....it's a gigantic, multi-hued explosion of psychedelic wibblery.
It's left up to The Pastels to follow it up. Aaaaah....The Pastels!!! Here sounding SO young, pale and undernourished it's a wonder social services weren't called. 'I Wonder Why' is a song so fey you want to give it a mug of soup! But it's beauty is every bit as comforting.
Ex-Swell Map Jowe Head follows up with 'Lolita', a weird melange of whistling, fractured vocals and erratic guitar playing. It's the kind of song that could probably give David Tibet nightmares. He appears later with a track called 'February' which is even stranger. Like an underwater medieval folk song....it took me YEARS to appreciate his contributions to the album, I was probably just too young at the time.
The Direct Hits contribute two of the very best tracks on the album, 'Girl In The Picture' and 'What Killed Aleister Crowely'. 'GITP' is a beautifully crafted pop song of pure unrequited love as the vocalist sits in his room fantasising about the titular Girl. It could also be about stalking!! I love the swooshy phasing effect on this track. '...Aleister Crowely...' is another perfectly produced mini-masterpiece which ends with the threatening "I can see through Aleister Crowely's eyes..." I have to confess I didn't know who Crowely was at the time I bought the album, and finding out obviously changed the entire song for me.
Dan Treacy's hand is, obviously, all over this record, from producing it, designing the sleeve, running the label, and being the main man in The Television Personalities and it is they who bring Side One to an end with the wondrous 'The Dream Inspires'. I've often wondered if this is a song about Oxford, but it is SO good that who really cares?
On to Side Two:
Kicking off with The Mad Hatters, 'Dancing With The Dead' is almost pure 1967...in fact the intro is reminiscent of (the then psychedelic) Status Quo's 'Ice In The Sun'.
Acoustic strumming, a harp, and the most tremulous voice imaginable...yes, it's Jed Dmochowski and his beautifully fragile lament 'I'm Sad'.
Then comes The Laughing Apple and the brilliant, vibrant, amphetamine hit of 'Wouldn't You', featuring on vocals Alan McGee....yes, THAT Alan McGee. The Laughing Apple would later change it's name to Biff Bang Pow and re-record 'Wouldn't You' in a rather over-produced fashion. This is the better version.
The Gifted Children are next with the brilliant 'My Favourite Films', a song that manages to namecheck Malcolm MacDowell, Albert Finney, Tom Courtney, Oliver Reed, Carol White, Wendy Craig and Rita Tushingham. What? No Terence Stamp or Julie Christie?
Which leaves us with the BIG TWO!
The opening track on this album is 'In The Afternoon' by The Revolving Paint Dream; this is, as I've said, one of my favourite songs of all time. It begins quietly enough with what sounds like the oldest, tinniest drum machine, punctuated with occasional LOUD snare whacks. On top of this is a cyclical guitar pattern, and then the vocals kick in; "Dont Go..." they beg, DRENCHED in echo and reverb.
The verse builds and builds until it collapses under it's own overwroughtness into the chorus "In the afternoon....we made love" The song is full of snatches of impassioned pleading, "Sometimes feelings go beyond words....and I don't feel real at all", "Maybe I could make it better?", "Now this lust was always love" "When she goes away....." Eventually the voices become so overlapping and echoey it begins to sound like a Gregorian Chant and becomes so loud in the mix, it distorts....or that could just be my copy! The Revolving Paint Dream would later release a proper album of their own with a re-recorded version of this track complete with female lead vocals....but THIS is the ABSOLUTE mutt's plums!!! It can still make me cry even just writing about it.
The album ends with another Television Personalities track 'Happy All The Time', and WHAT an incredible song!! "She paints an earthquake" Dan mutters at the start before we're off into another cyclical guitar pattern, heavy drums and weird keyboard effects. It's a song about unhappiness, maybe even depression; "Ha ha ha said the clown// As he fell down// And the audience laughed and cheered//But they never saw the tears" sings Dan before the mighty chorus; "And I'm just looking for rainbows//In a star filled sky//And I'm just waiting for the sun to shine//I remember somebody told me//That God is yours and mine//But nobody ever told me that pigs could fly".
After about three minutes the song ends, then comes a bunch of weird noises, the sound of a tape being rewound, and then three false re-starts before the song goes back into the chorus. If Jean Luc Godard ever produced a pop record, THIS is what it would sound like. The false starts and weird edits give the song a poignancy that has stuck with me for almost 25 years now.
This album would always make my list of Top 10 Albums Of All Time, even if it just had those two tracks on it.
The album has never been properly re-issued on CD, but a grab-bag of all of Whaam! Records output was released under the title of 'Whaam Bam Thank You Dan' which contains a good 75% of the tracks that appeared on this album.
01. Revolving Paint Dream - In The Afternoon
02. Television Personalities - I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives
03. The Mixers - Never Find Time
04. The Page Boys - You're My Kind Of Girl
05. Tangerine Experience - Only The Sky Children Know
06. Direct Hits - Too Shy
07. Television Personalities - The Dream Inspires
08. The Marble Staircase - Still Dreaming
09. 1000 Mexicans - The Art Of Love
10. The Mad Hatters - Dancing With The Dead
11. Jed Dmochowski - Part Of The World
12. Laughing Apple - Wouldn't You?
13. Television Personalities - Bike
14. The Page Boys - In Love With You
15. Direct Hits - Naughty Little Boys
16. The Gifted Children - My Favorite Films
17. The Marble Staircase - Dark Ages
18. Television Personalities - I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives
19. The Mixers - Love Hurts
20. The Gifted Children - Painting By Numbers
21. 1000 Mexicans - News Of You
22. Television Personalities - No One's Little Girl
23. Direct Hits - What Killed Aleister Crowley?
1. Whaam Records
2. Whaam Records
3. Whaam Records