Diesel Park West

Shakespeare Alabama

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One of the '80s most striking debuts, the first album from this Leicester, England, quintet is filled with soaring guitar epics, complemented by the powerful vocals and provocative lyrics of frontman John Butler and expertly produced by Chris Kimsey. Heavily influenced by the same jangly folk-rock (Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, etc.) that helped fuel R.E.M. and other alternative darlings, Butler and his bandmates opted for clarity instead of navel-gazing, creating anthemic tunes like "All the Myths on Sunday" and "Bell of Hope," which sounded like instant classics and considered appropriately big topics like religion and history. But the band may have been, as its label claimed, "years ahead of its time" -- while Diesel Park West followed its debut 45 "When the Hoodoo Comes" with several more singles, including the rocking "Like Princes Do" and "Jackie's Still Sad," the group struggled to find an audience, and also failed to repeat the magic of Shakespeare Alabama on subsequent albums. But this outing, now out of print, has become a sought-after item among fans who recognized greatness when they heard it.

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