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Compilation albums have always been a tough sell with me. Typically I hone in on a few acts that grab me – buy everything by those bands, and forget all about the compilation. There have been a few exceptions over the years – the Factory records box set, the Left of the Dial series, and anything associated with the Messthetics DIY series (to name just a few). When I got word that a tribute compilation album in memory of the Paris Angels Simon Worrall was in the works, I had a feeling it’d be a compilation that would sit comfortably on the (digital) shelf with my other favorites – and I was right. The compilation features musicians from Manchester, England from various levels of notoriety. To understand how or why these friends of Big Si (as he was affectionately known) came together to celebrate his life that was cut short far too soon in November of 2011, one must revisit the story of the Paris Angels.

Paris Angels were a band that were slightly more off the radar than the most notorious acts of the early 90’s “Baggy” Manchester scene. Don’t mistake that for being of lesser talent – the singles the band released were championed by John Peel and had a devoted fan base. The single “Perfume” was a top ten entry in the UK indie charts in 1990 and was also championed as an NME single of the week. The band fell apart after their label was acquired by EMI and their 2nd album went unreleased (though there are plans to release it later this spring, over 20 years later). The band reconvened in late 2011 in memory of their late drummer who had passed away suddenly. A bit more about Big Si:

“Big Si, as everyone knew him, was the friendly drummer in Paris Angels, who passed away in October 2011. Si was big in stature at 6’4″ and big in personality. To give you a handle on him, he was a mixture between Keith Moon and Tommy Cooper,  a merry prankster that always had a one-liner ready for everyone and all situations. He was never punctual and sometimes infuriating, but you could never stay mad with him because he had a heart of gold and a rapier-like wit to match. A true mad-cap colossus of a drummer with an infectious smile who is truly missed by all that met him.”

All artists featured on the album have donated their tracks royalty free for use on this record and profits raised from the release of the album will go towards Hector’s Charity, set up at St Mary’s Hospital / Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Charity by Clint Boon’s young son, Hector (Clint Boon was an integral member of Inspiral Carpets and The Clint Boon Experience). This compilation features the reunited The Sun and the Moon (Mark Burgess, John Lever, Andy Whitaker, Andy Clegg), Inspiral Carpets, SupaJamma (featuring Audioweb’s Martin ‘Sugar’ Merchant on vox), The Cornelius Crane, The Stone Roses bassist Mani collaborating with MC Tunes and Spen & Bunn, among many, many other Manchester acts. A heartwarming story and a stunning act of kindness by all acts involved – but is it any good? The answer is a resounding YES!

music keep on going, gets my body flowing (some highlights)

The album begins with an unreleased track by Paris Angels entitled “Sleeping With the Radio On” which is a throwback to the early 90’s Madchester scene with a deep, incessant groove. Looking back yet looking ahead, it is the only logical track to open up the album. “Sitting on a Biscuit in the Rain” reminded me of Andy Whitaker and Andy Clegg’s deep roots in the post-punk scene of Manchester. An unheralded masterpiece, this is a band that deserves a wider audience. Crooning vocals and sinister musical backing, simply a perfect track. “Death of Imagination” is a re-recorded tune by The Sun and the Moon and was one of Simon Worrall’s favorite tunes. This new version is the equal of the original and features Mark Burgess of The Chameleons on vocals. Hard to believe there is a 25 year gap between the original and this version – the band sounds tight. “June has Gone” serves up another slice of perfect Americana by The Cornelius Crane, who delivered an outstanding EP last year. I felt a bit emotional listening to “Somewhere in Time” by The Clint Boon Experience – an outstanding track full of melancholy and emotion, a bit of a spaghetti western feel to the affair. SupaJamma’s “Rudi” is an acoustic version recorded just for this record. The song seamlessly shifts between soulful crooning and more up tempo reggae – a clear highlight of the record. “Saturday Night” by MC Tunes, Mani, Spen & Bunn gives us an aggressive electro / rock mash-up. Bubblegum offer up the low-key disco rave “Hoochy Coochy” which really finds a way to embed itself in the listeners brain. The compilation ends with Andy Whitaker’s “Stars” which was a folk based highlight off of his recent full length Things That Happened on Earth (Andy appears quite a bit on this compilation with various bands).

Honestly, I could have highlighted quite a few different tracks – this compilation has gotten quite a few plays from me over the last few weeks as I absorbed all the different sounds. This isn’t a post-punk, baggy, or any genre specific compilation – this is a Manchester based compilation that has quite a variety of musical styles. Manchester legends Joy Division once sang about how love will tear us apart – that might be true in some cases I suppose, but in the case of Si Worrall of the Paris Angels love has brought people together to remember someone who made an impact on a personal level. The entire 41 track compilation is available for $6.99 on Amazon (USA) and about the same price in the UK. Amazon UK link here and Amazon USA link here . It is also available on Itunes, just type in Distant Drums and it’ll be the first thing that pops up (UK and US). Also make sure to check out the Distant Drums website – www.distantdrums.co.uk

Verdict: Love will bring us together

For Fans of: The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, The Smiths, Tricky, Happy Mondays

Tracks:

  1. Paris Angels – Sleeping with the Radio On
  2. Laugh – Time to Lose It
  3. Best – Better Move Over
  4. Music for Aborigines – Sitting on a Biscuit in the Rain
  5. Tony Ogden – Girls in Colour
  6. Orange Skies – Strong as You
  7. Super – I Went to the Mirror
  8. Dub Sex – Swerve
  9. The Sun and the Moon – Death of Imagination
  10. The Rainkings – Way Down
  11. Proud Mary – Give a Little Love
  12. The Cornelius Crane – June has Gone
  13. The Clint Boon Experience – Somewhere in Time
  14. Walton Hesse – Walt’s 15th Dream
  15. Eliza P – Hedge Witch
  16. Inastella – I Believe in Changes (2003)
  17. Plastic Gun Alliance – Television
  18. Motion Incorporated – Strawberry Sunshine
  19. Loopzilla – True Colours (One for the Hac)
  20. Together – Storming Heaven
  21. Bad Man Waggon – Kill Em All
  22. SupaJamma – Rudi
  23. Foilface – The Rolling
  24. Echo Devils – There Ain’t No Sound in Space
  25. Thrush Puppies – Tart / Bint
  26. Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds – I Love the Rock ‘n’ Roll
  27. MC Tunes, Mani, Spen & Bunn – Saturday Night
  28. Inspiral Carpets – You’re So Good for Me
  29. Spartak – Let’s Go Get Em
  30. Bong – Sometimes to Sometime
  31. Bubblegum – Hoochy Coochy
  32. The Second Floor – Strange Blues
  33. The Vincent Valmera Show – Murder in the Flat
  34. Happier Than us – Dreaming
  35. Weaveworld – Out & Down
  36. Truant – Howulikeme
  37. Suddi Raval – Creo Que Te Amo
  38. Bonebox – The Devil is in the Detail
  39. Rod Smith – When We Were Young
  40. Martin Stephenson – Miles Away
  41. Andy Whitaker – Stars
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