I suppose there's no harm in adding my voice to the swelling online-chorus of voices crowing about the release of 45 Revolutions Per Minute from Candy Opera. The album, out as of Friday officially from Firestation Records, is largely fantastic, and the sort of thing that is rightly going to get called a "revelation", especially since so little of the output of Liverpool's Candy Opera ever saw the light of day, or got any sort of big attention, back in the early Eighties.
"What A Way To Travel" opens the set in spectacular fashion, all From Langley Park to Memphis-styled pop, singer Paul Malone sounding so much like Paddy McAloon here that it's literally scary. Elsewhere, the spry "Fever Pitch" recalls mid-Eighties-era Aztec Camera stuff, while the more subtle "With Yesterday In All The Right Places" suggests even earlier work by Roddy Frame and his crew. It's darn near impossible to listen to 45 Revolutions Per Minute and not itch to place this in some context. And, yes, the music here is so good that, for those of us new to Candy Opera, the only natural response is to highlight how much of this bears favorable comparison to peers like those bands I've already mentioned, as well as Liverpool's own Wild Swans and The Pale Fountains. Less successful are numbers that deviate from these touchstones (the indulgent "Slow Down The Slow Dive", The Style Council-ish "The Gravy Train Run"), but there's still a whole lot to love here on 45 Revolutions Per Minute as "Diane" nods, again, in the direction of McAloon and even mid-career Lloyd Cole and the Commotions stuff, while the rougher "Happy To Be The Plot But Not The Crime" recalls lots of what Roddy Frame was doing on Knife (1984) and subsequent records. If this Candy Opera material had come out back then, the band would surely have been spoken of in the same breath as Aztec Camera.
45 Revolutions Per Minute is an absolutely essential release for anyone interested in this era of British indie, and especially for fans of the bands I've been mentioning as reference points. Candy Opera never got the break they deserved but, perhaps now, with the release of this compilation, there will be some considerable attention thrown their way.