AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #163 : THE BRILLIANT CORNERS

A GUEST POSTING by ERIC (from Oakland)

I really struggled between two concepts on this one. Career retrospective, or just my favorite songs? The first record I have is Growing Up Absurd, so I never really listened to the first 3 singles (She’s Got a Fever, Big Hip, and My Baby in Black) before this week. Then there is a clear point in 1989 when the sound changes considerably (most notably by the absence of trumpet). While there are some good post-trumpet songs, none of it would make it into my top 10. In the end I decided that this ICA would be the ICA of The Brilliant Corners as I remember them – ‘85-88′.

Rambling Rose

There were a few singles that preceded Growing Up Absurd, but there is good reason most comps start here. It’s here the BCs finally find the sound that will serve them well in the coming years. The guitar solo at the end is a nice intro to a classic BC trick, just slightly at odds with the rest of the band, but in a good way. It provides just enough tension to get your attention without killing the vibe.

A Girl Called Property

An introduction to a theme that will run throughout Davey Woodward’s work. Short simple and to the point. No mucking around.

Everything I Ever Wanted

Good morning, c86. From the opening guitar to the break and return and plenty of jingle jangle. The Fruit Machine EP finally brought everything together in to 4 glorious songs. No trumpet on this track but it’s on some of the others. Any of them could be on this comp, but I’m trying to keep it to 10 ;).

Brian Rix (Album version)

The song that put them on the map, and for good reason. The opening guitar work is worth the price of admission alone. I grew up on this version found on What’s in a Word. The production values on the single version are superior, but there’s a little string lic in the chorus that jars me every time and takes me out of the song. I’m sure there are others who feel an unspeakable emptiness in their gut when they get to that point on the album and the strings are missing. To each their own.

Delilah Sands

This is my favorite BC Song. I can’t get enough of it. There’s just something about the way it’s all put together, from the unusual bop ba da da bop cold start through to the brilliant trumpet line. This is my go-to whenever I need a little pickmeup. BC firing on all cylinders to be sure. It’s a toss up between this and “Why do you have to…” for my favorite BC record cover.

Teenage

Somebody Up There Likes Me is one of those records that I never get tired of. Every song is cracking and this lead single was no exception. Just enough production punch up to fill out the sound without wrecking the delicate balance.

She’s Dead

What a song. So simple but so devastating. I was obsessed with this song when it came out.

With a Kiss

Somebody Up There Likes Me presented the hardest choices for this comp. In the end With A Kiss floated up just for being a straight up ripper. It’s the last song on the album, begging you to flip it and start over again.

Why Do You Have To Go Out With Him When You Could Go Out With Me?

Looking back now this really is as good as anything from this era, with a bonus appearance from one Amelia Fletcher. What’s not to like? For some reason whenever I stumble upon this today, a horrible review pops up accusing the BCs of taking things one step too far. Oh well. I still love it. And that record cover. Perfect.

Shangri La

This song knocked my socks off when I first heard it. The opening is so clean and classic and perfect BCs. Then toward the end the guitar comes in with a raucous squeal that builds to a glorious cacophony. It’s almost as if they had decided to drive a knife right in the heart of their twee c86 sound. Kill it dead right there. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but it certainly has that affect, because after this single they were never quite the same…

After “Why Do You Have…” things really did change. I do remember feeling like they were making a conscious decision to shift their sound, and I remember being excited to see where it would go. And while the next few albums are good, I can’t say they are great. They aren’t the kind of thing that makes diehard fans remember the glory years, if you know what I mean.

I’m not sure what they were going for but it’s worth noting a number of heavier movements were emerging in the US around that time; The Pixies and Soundgarden were just starting to pick up steam. The BC sound definitely got thicker and of course the trumpet is totally gone. It feels like they were suddenly on the back foot, chasing the Americans to a more muscular sound, and didn’t quite catch up. Change is hard.

Still there are some good songs from the post trumpet era. You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, White Gates, and The Pope The Monkey and The Queen were dangling on the end of this list before I settled on my final 10. Hooked really is a nice album, an improvement over the largely forgettable Joyride. Sadly it’s not on Spotify but if you really want to check it out I’m sure you can find it. I’ve never listened to their final album, A History of White Trash, so I cannot report back on that one. My experiences are really just from a teenager in California listening to what records made the journey out west. If you’re looking for more context and history and Bristol scene info, check out

http://www.bristolarchiverecords.com/bands82/The_Brilliant_Corners.html

Eric from Oakland

PS: I also created a Spotify playlist for folks who like it like that.

One nice thing about the Spotify playlists – when you finish the songs Spotify starts playing things like The Go-Betweens and The Monochrome Set. I ended up listening for quite some time before realizing I had a job to do 🙂

9 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #163 : THE BRILLIANT CORNERS

  1. Not heard a girl called property for years. Looking forward to listening to all these

  2. Eric, I know from experience how hard it is to compile an ICA and what a struggle it is having to decide for songs to leave out in the end, but I cannot cope with the fact that ‘One Of These Days’ and ‘Meet Me On Tuesday’ are missing!

    Apart from that: good job, mate!

  3. 163 ICAs in and this series just gets better and better. Thanks Eric for compiling, one of my fondest song lists yet.

  4. Completely agree with this version of Brian Rix. I almost cannot stand the re-recorded single version; not because there’s much wrong with it but kind of like I cannot stand limited edition KitKats with added peanut butter or mint. Why tamper with perfection? Also agree with sexyloser – would have included Meet Me On Tuesday

  5. Thought I knew all the Brilliant Corners stuff well enough to decide on my own ICA easily. Then you pick out Shangri-La! How had I missed that? Ah, B-side of “Why do you…”. See, much as I liked the earlier stuff – “Growing up Absurd” and “Fruit Machine” especially – I wasn’t a huge fan of “Somebody up there Likes me”. And I reckon “Hooked” is probably the album I’ve played the most. I actually got hold of a cassette version of it from my wife’s sister’s mate who was a friend of Davey’s. I played it for ages, waiting for the official release. About 14 months later I had the Sea Urchin covered piece of black lastic in my hands. And I still played it to to death. For those unfamiliar with the band, Eric is right, it is a heavier sound. I just prefer my Corners that way.
    Oh, and sexyloser is right. “Meet me on Tuesdays” should definitely be on there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.