Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FROM THE VINYL RACK: Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes' "A Cabinet of Curiosities"

Forget JFK, what were you doing when you first heard Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes?” so says Keith Cameron in his sleeve notes for “A Cabinet of Curiosities”. Now I don’t remember when I first heard the band or when I bought this record but I certainly know WHERE I bought it: Avalanche Records, Edinburgh.

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes were a six-piece Scottish band "formed from around, and within, the Edinburgh indie-pop scene of the mid 1980's. The band had a distinctive guitar-jangle sound with male and female vocals. The band took their name from Elvis Presley's stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley".[Wikipedia]

And one of the six-piece Andrew Tully (guitars/vocals) worked at (managed? owned?) Avalanche Records – still a going concern – and if I didn’t buy his own bands' record from him I certainly bought plenty of other records when I was frequent visitor at the end of the 80s. Around this time I also met Fran Schlopper (vocals) briefly: I was introduced to her by a friend of hers walking across Bridge Street - and yes she was "a girl, Scottish and wore monkey boots". And it took all my restraint not to blurt out fawningly “omigod you’re that singer in Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes!”. A rare moment of youthful self-control.

“A Cabinet of Curiosities” is collection of their first singles from ‘Splashing Along’ in October 1986 to ‘You'll Never Be That Young Again’ in January 1989. The Keith Cameron sleeve notes say it best:

I’ve spent most of the intervening years since 1989 just concentrating on / listening to that first killer single ‘Splashing Along’ –to the detriment of the rest of the album. Which is a shame; because although a record of its time and of a set genre it is a very classy one. And for all its jangle and melody, in some of its slower songs and in Fran Schlopper's husky vocals it has real moments of soul too. Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes created a small splash at the end of the 80s in the then UK Indie Charts but never achieved the recognition and following they deserved - a 'minority interest'. When Rough Trade Shops released their Indiepop Vol 1 compilation in 2004 the first 500 copies came with a 7” single of ‘Splashing Along’. Nice but why the hell wasn’t it on the album?? That at least would help rectify some of their lost recognition.

I’m fairly certain none of this album (or 1990's “Nixon”) is available digitally anywhere but good news if you want more. Avalanche Records still sell vinyl copies of both albums - here and here - if you can't make it to Edinburgh in person.

There's not much else still available to commerate the band but there is this video for single 'The Adam Faith Experience'; a discography on Twee-net; and blog Fruiter Than Thou has a Janice Long session from October 1986 including several tracks not on "A Cabinet of Curiosities".

And I did play a small part in getting 'Splashing Along' placed in a feature film... but that's another story for another time.

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes
A Cabinet of Curosities [BUY]

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