We all probably have one, a record in our collections which is just fabulous, not in a nostalgic I-remember-where-I-was-when-I-first-heard-that kind of way. More in a every-tune’s-a-corker kind of way. A truly worldbeating record which for reasons you can’t fathom was bought by no one else.
For me, that record is Love & Money’s ‘Strange Kind of Love’.
Recorded in 1988, it was their second album and was produced by Gary Katz who produced every one of Steely Dan’s albums as well as Donald Fagen’s peerless ‘The Nightfly’ solo record, which frankly in my book is as good a CV as you can get. If that weren’t enough, they didn’t have a drummer at the time so they got Jeff Porcaro, one of the greatest session players of all time, member of Toto and the drummer who later did really die in a ‘bizarre gardening accident’, to fill in.
Add on to the top of that kind of pedigree eleven fabulous songs straight out of singer-guitarist James Grant’s top drawer, it’s difficult to imagine how the outcome could be anything other than a 24 carat musical triumph. And it is just that. Tight, slightly funky but decidedly British (Glaswegian even), impeccably sung and played with beautiful lyrics that stay just the right side of poetic, it was my most played record of 1988 and 1989, especially after they played a cracking though sadly Porcaro-less show at the Shaw Theatre on the Euston Road.
And no one bought it.Record label Fontana marketed the hell out of it, it was well reviewed in all the right places, they toured and toured, but still no one bought it. Or at least not enough for the record company to make any of its huge costs back and they were dropped. Band members went on to play with others and drift out of music, except leader and songwriter James Grant who continues to write and perform. He tweets a bit too and this week he tweeted a link to a version of the old Python Lee Jackson hit ‘In A Broken Dream’, you know the one Rod Stewart sang on for a fee of two carpets for his new sports car in 1969. Anyway this new version is acoustic only, James in his kitchen, just man and guitar, and is out and downloadable this weekend from the usual suspects (iTunes, Amazon, 7digital, Spotify). And it’s all for charity, in this case the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Anyhoo, I forwarded to good friend and Routemaster mentor Robert Elms, because he is a major Rod fan and often slips the Python Lee Jackson tune into the playlist for his show. Not surprisingly he liked it very much and thus began the quest to find a copy that he could play, a quest we imagined would take days and weeks, talking to agents, publishers, managers and lawyers but in the end took less than 15 minutes and is testament to how very easy it is to find anyone out there on that damned Internet. I tweeted James, he tweeted me back within 2 minutes with his email address, I emailed James and he emailed me back the MP3 file. And I emailed it to Robert. Job done.