The Pale Fountains Longshot For Your Love
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Collected and released when Head was on the verge of a new level of appreciation via Shack, Longshot for Your Love -- compiling radio sessions, unreleased tracks, and various other obscurities -- made for an appreciative peek back at his early-'80s days with the Pale Fountains. The opening liner notes in the booklet from Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five are perfectly appropriate. There's a clear sense throughout this enjoyable disc how Head's first outfit provided a bridge between swinging '60s pop and the efforts of a later generation, not merely with Pizzicato Five but Belle & Sebastian or any number of Burt Bacharach-loving acts of the '90s. Head's singing has a rich but clear resonance, calling to mind the exquisite team of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, while his band's preference for non-feedback-producing guitars ("Love Situation" the notable exception!) and inventive percussion and string arrangements works wonderfully. About the only band remotely like it in the U.K. would have been the earliest incarnation of Pulp, but the Pale Fountains have a sunnier, fuller feeling to their songs, helped in large part by the inspired inclusion of trumpeter Diagram. Those who know him best from his work with James or Spaceheads will enjoy his delicate leads and gentle backing on songs like both takes of "Just a Girl" and a peppy cover of the James Bond movie theme "We Have All the Time in the World." The two BBC sessions presented -- the first a four-song John Peel effort, the second a three-song turn on The Old Grey Whistle Test -- are the heart of the album, and deservedly so, including wonderful takes on the title track, "Benoit's Christmas," and a cover of Deniece Williams' "Free." Detailed essays on the group and a slew of often amusing photographs fill out this excellent CD.