I was somehow involved in compiling CDs and writing their accompanying notes for one or two reissue labels before I became a professional writer. I always felt more of an historian than a ‘music journalist’ and I’ve been lucky in being able to have focus on things historical from before my pro journalism career (1994-2001) began and long after it ended.
I was more or less away from writing about music during the 2000s, but I was still periodically involved in labour-of-love ‘heritage’ CD projects even then.
Since returning to full-time writing, with a focus on books and academic proofreading, I seem to have slipped into writing the odd magazine/newspaper feature, if it’s fun, and giving renewed energy to interesting archive music releases. Most of them these days are in collaboration with Brian O’Reilly at Hux Records – simply because he’s a good bloke and we have a great laugh on the phone – and also occasionally with Mark Stratford at RPM. These are people, like me, who really care about going an extra mile with releases where possible. I’ve also had the pleasure of being involved with two vinyl labels, Ba Da Bing and Earth Vinyl, recently, on projects around Jackson Frank and Bert Jansch.
Some of the projects I’ve been involved with in the past couple of years are: The Eve Folk Recordings Story (RPM, 2014), a various artists 2CD of producer Peter Eden’s 1965 folk oeuvre; Songs Without Words (Hux, 2015), Chris Spedding’s rare 1970 Japan-only jazz-rock album with a 6,000 word essay and period photos from Val Wilmer; Turtle Records: Pioneering British Jazz 1970-71 (RPM, 2015), a fabulous 3CD box set of Peter Eden’s three albums on his own Turtle label, with a sumptuous 17,000 word illustrated booklet; Road Works (Talking Elephant, 2015), a 4CD set of Wishbone Ash live recordings from 2010-14 with a 2000 word essay (okay, they told me there were only eight pages to play with); Complete Recordings (Ba Da Bing, 2015), an extraordinary 3CD/6LP set of everything known by Jackson Frank, a man who released only one album in his lifetime (I updated my mid-2000s Sanctuary Jackson Frank CD note for this and supplied some rare audio).
The big archive music project of 2016, for me, is Spirits From Another Time: Island Studios 1969-71 for Hux, a Quintessence studio outtakes collection to be released around May/June. I’ve been involved in every aspect of the project, and it’s been a privilege. I will also have some (much more modest) involvement with a couple of Bert Jansch projects from Earth Vinyl – a deluxe vinyl reissue of Avocet (a simple re-use of a previous Sanctuary label CD sleeve note) and a 1990s 4LP box set, the fourth disc containing rare/unreleased audio.
Some details about the five previous Quintessence-related releases on Hux can be found by clicking on the link to the left. Other links detail a few other items from the early 2000s.
Colin Harper, January 2016