16 Jan 2012

Jimmy Campbell - Beginner's Guide

An excellent Mersey songwriter with a diverse output. Unfortunately through a combination of bad luck and self sabotage he never got the attention he deserved, although a string of reissues over the last decade has helped to highlight his talents.

The 23rd Turnoff - The Dream of Michaelangelo
An excellent collection of quality merseybeat and psychedelia. Contains all of the Kirkby's singles, The 23rd Turnoff's sole single and a fascinating collection of demos and acetates. Beatles comparisons are apt with the Kirkby's material sounding a lot like pre-Help! Beatles, and the 23rd Turnoff acetates having a definite Revolver sound. Auditions for George Martin and Joe Meek led nowhere unfortunately so only one single was released by the 23rd Turnoff. Michael Angelo / Leave Me Here are both masterpieces, with Michael Angelo being the most beautiful piece of U.K psychedelia I've heard, while Leave Me Here was apparently written in ten minutes on the way to the session to record it. Peerless stuff. Start Here. ( 9/10 )

Jimmy Campbell - Son of Anastasia
Dropping the psychedelia, Campbell's first solo album was recorded for Fontana in the folk rock style of the time, and is reminiscent of the early Deram and Decca recordings of Cat Stevens, David Bowie and Marianne Faithful, although the recordings are generally much more sparse here. Mostly acoustic guitar and vocal with the occasional unfortunate kazoo accompaniment, the best songs here are tracks that he'd already demoed with the 23rd Turnoff. Another Vincent Van Goph is one of his best songs, while the stripped back acoustic reading of Michael Angelo is a triumph. Generally very nice stuff. ( 6/10 )

Jimmy Campbell - Half Baked
An early signing to the fledgling Vertigo label, who obviously had high hopes for this album and with good reason as it's bit of a gem - definitely his best solo album. Vertigo were confident enough to press it up in such huge quantities that you can still find unplayed copies showing up in deletion bins. The title track found it's way onto their Vertigo Annual sampler, but unfortunately the punters weren't convinced. Featuring some much more rocking arrangements this seemed like a sure bet. Very good. ( 7/10 )

Rockin' Horse - Yes It Is
After another commercial failure with Half Baked, Campbell put together this excellent mersey power pop band. The Beatles influence again shows it's face, but it's the more primal rock n roll of Lennon's contributions to the Get Back sessions that are evoked here. Campbell again proves that he excels in a group format - this is a better album than any of his solo albums in my opinion, and another that should have been a hit, but sold poorly and is now highly collectable. They released one other album without Jimmy a few years later.
( 8/10 )

Jimmy Campbell - The Jimmy Campbell Album
Campbell's last album unfortunately gives a pretty good indication of his mindset at the time. A fairly drab selection of downbeat songs, recorded in one day, reluctantly and with little enthusiasm as a contractual obligation, this is really an album for big fans only. Producer Michael Snow and the Rockin Horse rhythm section do their best to salvage things, but this is ultimately a pretty depressing listen. ( 3/10 )

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