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ACE RECORDS

Various Artists

Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade

    “76 In The Shade” follows in the footsteps of Bob Stanley’s hugely successful comps for Ace, including “English Weather” and “The Tears Of Technology”. It suggests bright yellow sunshine, hot plastic car seats, cats lolloping on the lawn. A few tracks (Smokey Robinson, Cliff Richard, David Ruffin, Carmen McRae) act as necessary splashes of cooling water; most of them sound like it’s just too hot to move. Luckily, you don’t need to.

    The months without rain and airless days and nights might not have been something out of the ordinary in the Algarve or the south of France, but it was without precedent in Britain. The Summer of 1976 has remained a benchmark for long, hot summers – there may have been scorchers since, but none have seemed quite as relentless or enervating. The country melted into a collective puddle. “76 In The Shade” probably wasn’t anyone’s real life soundtrack of the year – that could have included Bowie’s “Station To Station” and Abba’s “Greatest Hits”. Instead, Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley has put a compilation together that sonically evokes the summer of 1976 itself, its sweet heat and almost narcotic lethargy.

    Getting out of the sun, you might have sat inside with the radio on, and heard the dreamy wooziness of Liverpool Express’s ‘You Are My Love’, 10cc’s ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’, or the Emotions’ ‘Flowers’. Or maybe you flopped out in front of the telly, where you heard an alternative summer soundtrack – the music libraries that provided the bulk of the testcard’s music gave us Simon Park’s minimal ‘Stoned Out’ and John Cameron’s deeply immersive ‘Liquid Sunshine’; the Californian jazzer Spike Janson provided the wordless vocal harmonies of ‘Walking So Free’.

    “76 In The Shade” follows in the footsteps of Bob Stanley’s hugely successful comps for Ace, including “English Weather” and “The Tears Of Technology”. It suggests bright yellow sunshine, hot plastic car seats, cats lolloping on the lawn. A few tracks (Smokey Robinson, Cliff Richard, David Ruffin, Carmen McRae) act as necessary splashes of cooling water; most of them sound like it’s just too hot to move. Luckily, you don’t need to.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xLtd LP Info: 180g pressing, with deluxe heavy-duty gatefold sleeve, that features a bonus track!

    Various Artists

    Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present Occasional Rain

      It's the day after the 60s. You turn on the radio and there is news about John leaving the Beatles – or will Paul be the first to jump? There is insecurity and uncertainty. The rain filters into the post-psychedelic, pre-progressive sound; in times of upheaval, you always notice bad weather.

      "Occasional Rain" is the sequel to Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs’ highly successful "English Weather" collection ("Really compelling and immersive: it’s a pleasure to lose yourself in it" - Alexis Petridis, the Guardian). This is the sound of young bands experimenting in a period of flux, feeling for a new direction, exploring jazz and folk – as many songs are led by mellotron, piano and flute as they are by guitar. Lyrically, there are two themes that crop up regularly: the search for a home that isn’t there anymore – the certainties of the optimistic 60s, the physical reality of terraced streets – and the rain. For the former, there’s Cressida’s gentle, keening ‘Home And Where I Long To Be’, while Duncan Browne’s shape-shifting ‘Ragged Rain Life’ feels like a decent summary of Britain in both 1970 and 2020.

      "Occasional Rain" puts the era’s bigger names (Traffic, Yes, Moody Blues) and the lesser known (Mandy More, Shape Of The Rain, Tonton Macoute) side by side. Like its predecessor "English Weather", it evokes the turn of the new decade, a beautiful state of fuzzy confusion, and the feel of a wet Saturday afternoon at the dawn of the 70s spent flicking through the racks, wondering whether to buy the new Tull album or maybe take a chance on that Christine Harwood album in the bargain bin (go on, you won’t regret it).

      By mid-1968 there was a growing consensus that something had gone horribly wrong with the American dream. The nation’s youth had loudly made their feelings clear, but now the older, pre-Beatles generations began to look at the country – with urban riots, Vietnam, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy – and wonder what the hell was happening. This album includes rare classics (The Beach Boys’ ‘Fourth Of July’), lost masterpieces (Roy Orbison’s seven-minute ‘Southbound Jericho Parkway’), and forgotten gems by some of the biggest names in the business (Elvis Presley’s ‘Clean Up Your Own Back Yard’).

      Reactions to America’s existential crisis ranged in subject matter from divorce (Frank Sinatra’s ‘The Train’) and the break-up of the nuclear family (The Four Seasons’ ‘Saturday’s Father’), to eulogies for fallen heroes (Dion’s ‘Abraham Martin and John’), sympathy for Vietnam vets (Johnny Tillotson’s ‘Welfare Hero’), the church’s institutional racism (Eartha Kitt’s intense ‘Paint Me Black Angels’), and even questioning the ethics of the space programme (Bing Crosby’s terrific ‘What Do We Do With The World’).

      Compiled by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, State Of The Union follows on from their highly acclaimed English Weather and Paris In The Spring compilations. With clear parallels between today's fractured country and the USA fifty years ago, this is a fascinating condensation of what Americans were thinking when they turned on the TV, or the radio, or simply walked down Main Street in 1968.


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