Short Stories for Pauline - The Durutti Column Album Review
A brand new album from Manchester's thin white guitar duke has been in the pipeline for some time now, but personal break-ups, a stroke and subsequent recovery have meant that the planned "Chronicles" project is on hold until later this year. The bane of Durutti Column guitarist Vini Reilly's rollercoaster life has been his own health, or lack of it, while the accompanying depression, petulance, genius and romanticism have merely served as either a hindrance or a blessing. This particular album was originally for release in 1983 but, due to various reasons, was scrubbed from the schedules thus easily outdoing the other long-awaited new material by almost 30 years.
Recorded in Brussels as a follow-up to the band's 3rd album "Another Setting", "Short Stories For Pauline" has become something of a holy-grail for Durutti Column-philes, although most, if not all, 14 tracks have appeared on numerous compilations or redux versions of Reilly's catalogue in recent years. That's not to say this superb vinyl-only release isn't worth the bother - it most certainly is - but CD aficionados may have to dig deeper and scour harder to find the pieces assembled here, most of which are as essential as you can imagine. In fact, with some songs and instrumentals having previously been christened, re-titled and re-retitled back to their original monikers, you'd be hard-pressed to make sense of it all.
Thankfully, LTM Records have resurrected the tracks in their entirety, dusted off the original record-label logos, applied the original catalogue number and utilized an archive photo from the recording sessions to turn out a typically attractive and relevant image and sleeve. As well as Vini Reilly, drummer Alain Lefebvre and Tuxedomoon's strings-maestro Blaine L.Reininger added some colour to the proceedings, also lending a somewhat austere European air. Not surprisingly, given Reilly's fondness for Belgium, the sessions were created and compiled in Brussels with acclaimed producer Gilles Martin.
Some of these tracks are achingly beautiful - "College" (aka "The Sea Wall") is quite simply Reilly and Reininger's best-ever composition and collaboration (they did a few), strengthened by the no-nonsense arrangement and the latter's lyrical use of violins and violas throughout. "Journeys By Vespa", "Model", the pretty "Telephone Call" and the closing harp-driven cadenza "A Room in Southport" (aka "Snowflake", a far more apt title) also serve as strong choices and certainly sound refreshingly pin-sharp, moreso than the aforementioned preceding muddle, "Another Setting". Even Tony Wilson's bug-bear, Vini's voice, sounds relaxed and less glum on "Take Some Time Out" (aka "We Stumble") and "A Silence".
But it was the classical-piece "Duet" that successfully helped to can this album back in '83. Wilson heard it and advised Reilly to morph the short 3-minute vignette into a full-blown orchestral work, which later became the 'proper' fourth studio-album, "Without Mercy". Whilst those intentions translated, into what was and still is a brave and unthinkable idea (indie-label, classical music, drum-machines?), the evidence on "Short Stories For Pauline" suggests that perhaps this should have seen the light of day as well. Consequently, some 30 years later, the limited 1000 copies should sell out very quickly. Essential.
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