Twenty years ago we’d been running Bucketfull for about two years, and by then – between August 1996 and December 1997 – had published four issues without too many hiccups. OK we (or more precisely Terry) had been taken to court by a scumbag, and there were the weird and often inexplicable typos which mortify to this day, but we were solvent. We’d also got shot of all the subscribers we’d inherited from Jon Storey and now had our own growing list.
We were hitting #50 and thus far hadn’t cover-mounted anything. It wasn’t a good time for 7” singles; the nearest pressing plant that anyone knew of was in the Czech Republic; so we thought we’d do a CD compilation instead. We made a wish-list and started working through it, and surprisingly we kept on hitting pay-dirt.
Both Joss and I really wanted to get a Dan Penn track, so I got hold of his address and just wrote him a letter, which you still did in those days, and back came a DAT and a cassette, as you still got in those days, of ‘Jewel Of My Heart’ along with a friendly handwritten reply which I still have to this day. The track was an, possibly the sole, out-take from his Do Right Man album, and is, and remains, utterly wonderful.
We also got a track from Jim Dickinson, ‘Too Late’; a song co-written with Ry Cooder and John Hiatt, and recorded with his sons Luther and Cody. Joss had interviewed Jim and so this coincided nicely. We put Jim on the cover; I’d found a nice picture of him in a Dylan magazine but nobody could trace the origin. I ended up phoning up Jim to ask him about it and had a long and wide-ranging conversation – he told me a lot of stories – eventually being advised “just use it, the magazine went bust”. So we did and he’s unmistakable on that golden cover.
So that was two tracks, and there were another seventeen from folk like Dwight Twilley who gave us ‘It’s Hard To Be A Rebel’, Matthew Sweet with ‘Bold Moves’, and Sparklehorse’s Blake-via The Fugs setting of ‘London’. Bill Lloyd, The Barracudas, You Am I, and Darryl-Ann.
Listening again now I’m astonished at the quality and just how well we sequenced it. It sounds still so fresh and life-affirming even as time has made it poignant. Both Jim and Mark Linkous went some years back, and the loss of Tommy Keene last autumn so soon after touring with Matthew Sweet still stings.
We did very well with it and sold out the first print-run. A second smaller print-run used up the rest of the CD pressing. They soon went and that was that. I’d see it now and then on eBay usually going for between fifteen and twenty-five quid. For a long time all I had a handful of copies in poor condition, but a few years ago someone – I think closing a record store – offered me a box of old mags and when I got to look at it there was a small quantity of #50s in very good condition.
I thought they’d all gone but the other day, digging around at home (as some of you will know I have time on my hands currently) I turned a few copies up. Rather than stick them up on eBay I’m offering them for sale here, now.
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