Friday, 1 May 2009

Queen of the Harpies

Considering how much I like a drink and how much I like flipping through racks of old vinyl it's surprising I've not spent more time in record shops drunk. One occasion on which I was saw me purchase the album "Sisters of Suave" by Thee Headcoatees. The bloke in the shop (Forever Changes) was the model of professionalism: "Are you sure? You seem er...", but I was smitten, mainly by the tune "Davy Crocket". Anyway, "Sisters of Suave" is an excellent record but its real importance to me is that it served as a gateway to the music of the most successfully solo Headcoatee: Holly Golightly. I think she's great and her greatest album has to be "God Don't Like It" (so far, she's incredibly prolific and I admit I'm a couple of albums behind). Possibly condemned as a revivalist by the wider public "God Don't Like It" is undeniably retro featuring such things as a double bass, echoey vocals and admirably direct lyrics. To my ears every single song is a winner, but the stand out is her version of Bill Withers' "Use Me". Bill Withers is a fine performer but predictably I prefer the folk garage version found here. The vocals, the playing, the lyrics, the production, even the artwork - it's an all round, bona fide, top quality pop artefact. And how many albums can you honestly say that about?

I think I heard once that she still holds down a day job at Hackney Council, that's pretty cool if it's true but she deserves to be better known. I don't know how many copies of "Elephant" the White Stripes sold but her guest slot on "It's True That We Love One Another", the worst song on the album, can't have intrigued many potential fans. The forced "jolly good" and "cup of tea" comments at the end are a shocking lapse and make me want to smash my teeth in.

She's a distinctive-looking woman and I'm sure I saw her once in a Neal's Yard shop. I could have jogged home and grabbed my LPs and asked her to sign them, but I don't understand why people do that.

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