Joe Adhemar’s (Christmas Day) Desert Island Album

SPIRIT OF EDEN – Talk Talk – 1997 Remaster

THIS album got its first listen by me around 2007, so I was a late adopter. It’s one of those albums that just hasn’t ever been given much consideration in the TOP 100’s of music journalists over the years.

Why? I think it’s because Mark Hollis, the main songwriter, had quite a poor relationship with the music media. After this album release in 1988, I think they stopped all contact with the music press. Despite this counterproductive attitude, the album has never disappeared from the radars of those who know music. It’s arguably the musos top pick in the world I move in. Nearly all the musicians I know have a fondness for it. I’ve heard Guy Garvey say it’s his favourite too, so I’m in good company.

Track 1 -The album opens with ‘The Rainbow’. This song is my favourite off the album. Tim Friese Greene plays the finest harmonica I have ever heard. Sonic quirkiness throughout. I think there’s the scraping of a mortar and pestle at some point. Come to think of it, I think if I had a means to check, this is my most played song ever.

Track 2 – ‘Eden’. This is a lesson in minimalism. Not worrying too much about volume. It ebbs and flows in and out. The Yamaha CP-70 Electronic Piano upfront – the defining sound of the 80’s popularised on tracks like ‘Old England’ by The Waterboys and ‘October’ by U2. My favourite CP70 track ever!

Track 3 – ‘Desire’ – The merging of the previous track into this is hard to make out, but it’s the fact it’s a proper Grand Piano rather than the digital version that defines the boundary. Before you know it, there’s a B3 Hammond and some beautiful bluesy acoustic sprinkled in and then Hollis starts singing. He’s got one of those voices like Neil Young. Strained and earnest. But it works for me. Quiet/Loud/Quiet/Loud is the best way to explain this track. Listen to the quiet rumble of a poorly tuned Timpani in there too. Probably the drummer, Lee Harris’s finest hour.

Track 4 – ‘Inheritance’ Indistinct lyrics. Discordance that uses one of my favourite scales. Called ‘Lydian’ – For those unacquainted it’s when you play in the scale that is two semitones up from the root (ie. scale of E when the band are in D). This song is probably the hardest work for those who can’t tune into that clash. I love it.

Track 5- ‘I believe in you’ – I knew this song before I listened to the album. I’ve asked my wife to play this at my funeral. The choir of children is one of the most beautiful passages in any song I have ever heard. The use of stereo in this is a lesson in how to separate all the parts during a mix. The way how some of the Hammond merges with the piano and guitar is seamless. Come to think of it, I think I like this more than ‘The Rainbow’.

Track 6 – ‘Wealth’ – Another lesson in minimalism. I can imagine Mark Hollis driving the production on this with his insistence of space. My perfect gig would be a 100 muso friends in the sunshine on a glorious summer’s day, about three pints into some delicious Scrumpy with this playing out of 20kW rig. Bucket Hat on. Smiling and crying at how moving it was.

I hope my description lures a few in to giving this a listen and I’ve explained well enough why it’s my top album of all time.

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