Mary Fahl first came to prominence as a member of October Project in the 1990s, but it was only after moving on and exploring solo ventures that the American vocalist began to reach her full potential. Despite not being the most prolific, her releases have been rich and sometimes quite varied. Clinging on to a folk core, and blending that with an easy listening vocal, Fahl’s best songs have ploughed a very adult MOR furrow, but those paying closer attention will spot a broad range of influences. For example, ‘Annie Roll Down Your Window’ shows an affinity for Indigo Girls, an almost Neil Finn-like pop element drives the folk rock sound of ‘Raging Child’, and much later on, ‘How Much Love’ conveys the dark heart of Tracy Chapman set against the sparseness of Daniel Lanois.
Much has been written and said about The Rolling Stones’ golden period between 1969 and 1973, but very little beats hearing the band in full flight. Their 1969 shows at Madison Square Garden were used as partial source material for the legendary ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ live LP, but over half a century later, the full shows have still not been given an official release.
When The Rolling Stones released ‘Steel Wheels’ at the end of the 80s, they’d spent the better part of a decade coasting off the back of some average albums and a lot of goodwill. Although when heard many years later the album now sounds like the Stones on autopilot, in 1989 it sounded sharp and vibrant; streets ahead of both 1983’s ‘Undercover’ and 1986’s absolutely turgid ‘Dirty Work’. The singles ‘Rock & A Hard Place’ and ‘Mixed Emotions’ harked back to solid rockers like ‘Start Me Up’ and ‘Little T&A’ from almost a decade earlier, while tracks like ‘Hold On To Your Hat’ proved the veteran rockers were still more than capable of cutting loose.
A great album deserves a great tour, and in that department, the Stones really didn’t short change their fans either. The ‘Steel Wheels Tour’ of ’89 – renamed the ‘Urban Jungle Tour’ in 1990 – took the band around the globe and saw them visiting the US shores for the first time since 1981. Fans have already been able to revisit the Steel Wheels tour via a widely circulated show filmed at the Tokyo Dome in 1990, but the earlier show from Atlantic City in December ‘89 outdoes that in almost every respect.
When Record Store Day first began, it was a great idea. Those who were regulars at independent record shops like Avalanche in Edinbugh and Resident in Brighton could potentially get their hands on very limited, exclusive items. It was a celebration of record buying culture, more than anything. Over the years the event has grown. After all of the major labels sensed a potential cash cow, it increasingly became about reissuing stuff en masse at inflated prices.
Record Store Day has become an event full of mixed feelings. There are now tales of people not actually visiting their local (and favourite) stores on RSD as the crowds of unfamiliar faces have made the experience quite stressful. People queue for hours in the hope of finding one of the many artificially created rarities – a lot of which seem to appear on ebay just hours later at even more inflated prices. In recent years, there have even been dealers “pre-selling” their RSD wares on the internet up to two days before the event that was supposed to get people into their shops.
1972 AD. The year that bored suburban teens attempted to resurrect Dracula, in a much maligned Hammer film that’s actually quite good fun. The year that Bolan’s musical craft was at its most perfect; the year Ziggy Stardust came to Earth and changed Bowie’s fortunes forever.