Durutti Column 2001-2009 (Box set) - The Durutti Column Album Review

The Durutti Column
The Durutti Column

Album Review

Aimed at the Christmas market yet strangely absent from shops until the last minute (well, in London), this might well qualify for your hard-earned 'gift-tokens' during January, especially with a few dates coming up for Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell in Manchester and London (see below).

'2001 - 2009' does what it says on the smart little box - it rounds up his output for his alter-label Artful (alongside indie Kooky). It seems that one label isn't enough for the prolific guitarist who spends his time cavorting with two bed-partners, so to speak. Trying to make a 'Best Of' for the Durutti Column, something Warners attempted a few years back and failed due to distribution cock-ups, is nigh on impossible so the easy route is to repackage albums with a few extra tracks. How I would love to be the manager of his entire catalogue...no one has yet done him justice. I'll try and keep it brief...

Disc one is 'Rebellion', a strange mish-mash of flat ideas that rank as some of Reilly's most misguided recordings. Opening piece 'For Sophia' is wonderful - an instrumental that represents his ability to craft awe-inspiring beauty from a guitar with a hint of sampled operatics in the mix a la his Sporadic days and added to Bruce Mitchell's terrific drumming on 'Geh Cak Af En Yam' following on, there is little else to stir the soul apart from another Mitchell-driven baby called 'Meschugana'. Folk songs, raps and half-realized ideas just don't suit his talents here on the rest of the album. The extras are two prime XFM session tracks that enhance the set.

Disc two is 'Someone Else's Party' which is the equal of his best and thus begs the head-scratching question - how can he go from 'Rebellion' to this? Or vice versa? Pretty much all of this album is bang on the money with samples, beats and glorious guitar-riffs made for Heaven. The vocals, something that Reilly was berated for by long-standing friend and Factory boss Tony Wilson, are mixed perfectly with the backdrop of electronic and down-beats. Highlights are the non-vocal 'Spanish Lament' (featuring the ballad from 'Mulholland Drive' with added Vinisms), the highly personal 'Requiem For My Mother', the chunky-beatfest 'Vigil', the Aaron Neville-sampled intensity of 'No More Hurt', the Bhangra-flavoured monster 'Woman' and the pretty dawn-chorus sampled 'Goodbye'. In addition, 'Drinking Time' is a paean about an alcoholic sung from a girlfriend's point of view and is primed to soundtrack a million Mike Leigh films - it is truly lovely. The extras include the tear-duct tingle, 'Creole'.

Disc Three is 'Keep Breathing' which is almost the equal of SEP. 'Nina' contains a few reasons to learn how to play guitar as does the next track 'It's Wonderful'. 'Maggie' uses a cracking take on the folk classic 'She Moves Through The Fair' to drive it forward and 'Helen' broods with typical Reilly finesse. But it's the slight acoustic pickings of 'Neil' and 'Lunch' that show his forte as a composer and tie this album up as a contender, the latter borrowing a few bits from his landmark composition 'Without Mercy'.

Disc four (are you keeping up?) is 'Idiot Savants', an album that continues with the dedications to a certain Mr Wilson with the pivotal piece 'Interleukin (For Anthony)', interleukins being a medical term that may or may not have alluded to Tony's ongoing health state. The album as a whole is a bit hard-going in places and only the Spanish-flavoured 'Please Let Me Sleep' really keeps it all together. The rest knocks on the door of introspection too often.

The final disc is 2009's 'Love In The Time Of Recession', an album I gave three and a half stars in March. This version adds extra tracks so has it been enhanced to the good? Well the main album still sounds like it did 10 months ago - a varied mixture of vocal or guitar-led vignettes that don't quite gel yet never cause disinterest. If you fail to get 'For Bruce' then you are destined for the bin, I can say no more. The two extras are remakes of album tracks past and present.

Overall, if you want to dip into what Reilly is doing in his recent years then this budget box-set is well-worth plonking your toe (and ear) into. But there is an air of muddled cobbling together here.

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