Thursday, September 13, 2007

Black - Black (1991)

My interest in Black (AKA Colin Vearncombe) goes back to early 1989, when I joined a CD club as a way of adding a few discs to my meager collection. I bought my first CD player in the fall of 1988, and back then not many stores were stocking anything outside the charts. I ordered Black's first album Wonderful Life (1987) and the second, Comedy (1988) on the basis that both were on sale for half price that month.

Wonderful Life, of course, had the hit title track. However I always preferred the second album, plunging as it did into a world of languid desperation and studied spite. I thought about featuring this as my classic album this week. After 20 years, I still enjoy a listen. However, it seemed to me that both of these have been blogged fairly recently - Ripped Vinyl featured them both here and here.

So I decided instead to focus instead on Black's third album, and last for A&M, Black, released in 1991. My initial reaction was to be just slightly underwhelmed. The album was a quieter affair, with earlier snarls of disaffection turning into utter resignation. This was, and is, a definitive late-night album. Sounding utterly unlike anyone else in the charts (I was too young even then to recognize a Scott Walker impression), there were, needless to say, no hit singles and no appearances on Top of the Pops. However, what was left instead was quite achingly beautiful. On "Two Many Times" Black laments that he can no longer talk to his father ("How was I to know you'd go so soon?") and other tracks like Listen, This Is Life, and Here It Comes Again are masterpieces of aural autobiography - the emotion is so naked that the album feels like it should be wrapped in brown paper. A couple of tracks are more defiant - Let's Talk About Me, for example, but nothing shatters the mood, and nor should it.

I managed to find the electronic press kit, which includes excerpts and an interview with Black.

From a historical perspective, I have added some extra B-Sides released with accompanying singles which extend the experience without detracting from it. More than due for a reissue, or at least a little respect, some treasures sadly remain buried.

Black - Black (1991)
  1. Too Many Times
  2. Feel Like Change
  3. Here It Comes Again
  4. Learning How To Hate
  5. Fly Up To The Moon (with Sam Brown)
  6. Let's Talk About Me
  7. Sweet Breath of Your Rapture
  8. Listen
  9. She's My Best Friend
  10. This Is Life
  11. Nice (B-Side from Feel Like Change CD Single)
  12. I Can Let Go Now (B-Side from Feel Like Change CD Single)
  13. Whole Wide World (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)
  14. Under Wraps (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)
  15. What's Right Is Right (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)

Wkipedia Entry for Black
Black's Offical Website
And one more


Wendy said...

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this album here. I bought the album from iTunes but unfortunately had a hard drive meltdown. I was absolutely delighted to find it here, especially because of the bonus B-side tracks, which I think are absolutely lovely, especially 'Under Wraps', which has more of an 80s vibe than this album as a whole - which I love. I never would have discovered them otherwise.

Many thanks!

fiftypercent said...

Thanks for your comment Wendy. Keep in touch, I will be posting some more Black very soon.

payments said...

If you guys like Black, check out Black Box Recorder.. another little-known English group from the 90's that were never really fully understood or appreciated by the mainstream music scene. Some of the songs are quite dark and strangely quirky, unusual videos too.