ALBUM: Avon Calling 2
LABEL: Bristol Archive Records
FIVE WORD REVIEW: Resurrected demos better off buried
LOCATION: Bristol, England
LINE UP: Various
WHAT’S THE STORY?: Thirty one years ago, Avon Calling was released as a showcase for the underground talent of Bristol’s burgeoning music scene, receiving wide acclaim. Now Bristol Archive Records present Avon Calling 2: Forgotten Gems & Unknown Curios, featuring a medley of twenty unreleased tracks from the heart Bristol’s late 70s/early 80s music scene.
SOUNDS LIKE: If names like Private Dicks, Apartment, Joe Public and Sean Ryan mean anything to you then this release probably has you salivating. But that also probably means you’re middle aged and from Bristol. These bands were doubtlessly great and vibrant on the scene in the way back when, but they’re not exactly cutting edge now and it’s difficult to see what sort of relevancy they have.
As a whole, the album has little direction; it’s effectively a ‘hip’ variant of ‘Now 31’; presenting a random smattering of what is, or is perceived to be, great, tied together by a loose sort of go-getting vibrancy. This vibrancy certainly helps when it comes to getting toes tapping and heads bopping – you can really feel the raw pub room edge of some of the sound – but ultimately fails to leave much of a mark. That’s not to say it’s rubbish, there are some great tracks on offer – from the excellent, cheerful staccato beats of Private Dicks’ ‘You Got it’, to Sneak Preview’s truly bizarre monologue ‘I Can’t Get Out’. But these are few and far between and for the most part, while demonstrating some technical excellence, these works fail to bring up that ‘certain something’ that would elevate them to greatness.
As a celebration of Bristol’s musical history, this stuff is great, but outside of that limited niche most of these songs and bands are footnotes and nothing more. It’s celebration of shared history that can’t help but alienate someone who wasn’t a part of it. Something to be brought by now middle-age mums and dads so they can look back on their ‘wild’ days and sigh nostalgically, before driving their son to football practice again.
The writings on the wall, or more accurately – the jewel case. These are curios, of great interest to the collector or aficionado, but of little interest otherwise.
YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You’re a diehard who never let go. A once-was with a fondness for nostalgia. A historian.
Submitted By Andrew Gregory