The second Hidden Gem of the week and its an excellent pick from Amelia Fletcher. Fletcher’s latest work is with The Catenary Wires, her long running band with partner Rob Pursey. Though you certainly may know Fletcher from one of her tenure in many seminal indie pop outfits, including Heavenly, Marine Research, Talulah Gosh, Tender Trap, or Sportique. Quite the solid and enviable resume, and that’s just a top highlights list! Even being modest, it’s possible to say that Amelia was instrumental in building a sound that influenced hundreds of bands and charmed thousands more with her mix of melody, wit, and bittersweet bliss. As she and Pursey embark on The Catenary Wires’ third album, Birling Gap, I got a chance to ask her for a pick in the Gems series. I’d figured that she might have some indie pop treasures tucked away on her shelf and she snags a pop nugget from the Telstar records stable that includes the first recorded appearance of April March. Find out how this record came into her life and the impact its had.
“My hidden gem of a record would be Spring Fever! by The Pussywillows,” reveals Fletcher. “They were a girl group from New York City, who only released this one album (although they appeared on a few compilations). Elinor Blake from the band went on to record in her own right as April March. I bought the album when it came out in 1988 from Rhythm Records in Camden, London, mainly on the basis of the cover but also partly on the basis of a hand-written sticker saying ‘like early Bangles’. The sticker is still there, although the band in fact remind me more of the wonderful Dolly Mixture.”
“I loved the album on first listen,” she recalls, “although it took me a while to realise that the songs were all covers. Indeed, apart from ’The Boat That I Row’ (made famous by Lulu) and ‘Come On Now’ (by The Kinks), the songs are all fairly obscure. Apparently they were chosen from a mixtape that a friend had made the band of obscure collectable songs. Which makes this album a hidden gem made up of hidden gems! The Pussywillows made the songs totally their own. They also remind me a bit of fab UK band The Delmonas (later The Headcoatees), who were similarly introducing old 60s songs to a new audience. ’Spring Fever’ remains one of my top favourite albums.”
I also can’t resist the lure of a hidden gem of hidden gems, and this is an ace pick by Amelia for the series. Unfortunately its also a bit hard to find. The album (and the Telstar catalog in general) isn’t widely available on streaming sites and its never been reissued. Second hand copies can be found but they’re going to pull at the purse a bit. Looks like a handful are available on Discogs if you’re as smitten by this one as I am. The LP can be streamed via YouTube, so at least you can take a few rounds with this one to let these summertime songs wash over you. The Catenary Wire’s new LP is available now from Jigsaw.
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