Wreckless Eric

Almost A Jubilee: 25 Years At The BBC (with Gaps)

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Not everything that Wreckless Eric recorded for the BBC is on this 18-song compilation. But for a single-disc collection it covers a lot of territory, running 79 minutes and featuring material from sessions cut in 1977, 1978, 1986 (as part of the Len Bright Combo), 1996 (as part of the Hittsville House Band), 2001 (as part of Southern Domestic), and 2002 (as just plain Eric Goulden). No matter which musicians he was playing with or which billing he was using, it's Wreckless Eric that dominates the proceedings, as both singer and songwriter. The tracks that excite the most attention will probably be the first seven -- all from 1977-78 -- and all of the songs hailing from the period of his first album. Although the two sessions were recorded just five months apart, the band was totally different on each occasion save for Eric, with Ian Dury handling drums on the first session. As is par for the course with BBC session releases, it's nothing too startlingly different from the familiar versions; it's just a good chance to hear this notable new waver in rough'n'ready fashion, with good sound, performing some of his most famous tunes (including "Whole Wide World" and "Semaphore Signals"). The post-'78 cuts aren't as notable since the material isn't as memorable, though they're not bad. The vocals don't have great presence in the mix on the '86 session; while "Girl with the Wandering Eye" and "You Can't See the Woods (For the Trees)" from 1996 are high spots. By 2001, his songs are tending to go on too long. The program comes to an end on an amusing note with the sole item from the 2002 session, a solo acoustic tribute to "Joe Meek." Lengthy liner notes from Wreckless Eric himself add some useful inside perspectives about the sessions.

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