And I was hooked by a “come-hither” look and a gaze that was, well, beyond correction.

the_Wreckless_Eric_400x400An early Christmas present from eMusic.

Occasionally, I forget what a sterling service the good folk at eMusic provide. Despite the regular infuriating crashes on their site, I’ve been a subscriber for more years than I care to remember but, as with so many things in life, your eye does get turned every now again, grass is greener, younger model who really understands you, it’s not you, it’s me… You can imagine, I’m sure.

But then, if you’re lucky, your one true love reveals that something really special, something that reminds you why you hooked up in the first place. And if you’re really, really lucky that special something involves Wreckless Eric.

So, I’m idly clicking through the myriad, scattered pages of eMusic, and I come across an album I’ve been looking for periodically for a good fifteen or twenty years.

The Hitsville Houseband

Back in the nineties, before music was widely available online, you were, of course, limited to whatever offerings your local store was adventurous enough / could be arsed to stock. Clearly if that local store was HMV, you were well and truly buggered (but I won’t start on that particular rant… No, really, I’ll never get to the end of it…) The Dark Ages indeed.

As an avid Mark and Lard listener at the time, I remember really treasuring a number of their sessions of the time. I particularly loved a session that I recorded with Wreckless Eric and his Hitsville Houseband, who were at the time plugging their 12 O’clock Stereo album. A terrific session that I listened to for ages, I eventually lost the cassette (and/or a cassette player) and with no prospect of ever finding the record (which, it turns out, was deleted pretty quickly anyway) the songs eventually faded from my memory. I’ve always liked the man and continued buying his records as they were available (the record with his partner Amy Rigby is particularly good) but never seen sight nor sound of 12 O’clock Stereo.

And here it is again, re-released and, Lord bless them, available on eMusic. Turns out the new release date was only a fortnight again, so for once if not actually “ahead of the curve”, I’m pretty damn close to it. Whoop!

Here’s my favourite track off the record – “The Girl with the Wandering Eye” – not a proper video, I’m afraid, but the song makes me smile every time…

The re-released version has actually been beefed up with some ‘bonus’ tracks and even some of the original radio session versions (a second whoop!). I’ve always loved Wreckless Eric’s reedy, nerdy voice and his beat up, defeated personality – if he’d been around in the sixties he would’ve been a member of the Standells or more likely fronting his own obscure band managing one single, later to turn up on Pebbles vol 15 or some such… To be fair, though, he can be pretty clever with his lyrics and will occasionally produce some real gems. “Ugly & Old”, a ‘bonus’ track that apparently never made the cut for the original record, is one such nugget.

It’s a kind of country ballad dedicated to the disappointments and insecurities of going to seed and has some great couplets:

“When time takes its toll and we’re ugly and old, will you still be happy with me? Faithful to the end, much more than just best friends? Tell me when we’re ugly and old”

Merry Christmas all…

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