“Client,” they told us on their first album, “Satisfaction guaranteed.”
Not guaranteed for them, it wasn’t. In 2006, after two low-key but excellent albums Client and City for Andy Fletcher‘s Toast Hawaii label, Client, dissatisfied with their label’s performance, decided to go and find themselves a new record label.
In so doing, they did what most acts in a similar situation do, and went rubbish. Somehow the pressures of having no editorial controls, and having to do everything for themselves, really got to them, and they instantly forgot everything that had made their first two albums so exceptional.
But that was all in the future. The album Heartland (2007) was another year away, and for the loyal fans who had stayed with them over the first few years, they had a special present – The Rotherham Sessions, and eight-track collection of recent unfinished recordings. Not a present in the strictest sense, as you had to buy it from them, but I suppose they had to make some money somehow.
The first track is the dreary Monkey on My Back. There’s really very little to say about this one – it’s not unpleasant, but there’s really nothing special about it. The vocal is a monotone, the music is dull and repetitive, and the lyrics are unexciting. Sadly, it was about as good as the next album would get.
Dirty Girl, later 6 in the Morning is better, and is a worthwhile reminder of how important the production is to a track – this is only a demo. Of course, as we now know, the album which followed wasn’t a lot better. Similarly, Someone to Hurt also shows some promise, and could have been turned into a truly excellent album track.
Next up is Leave the Man to Me! which, although never released elsewhere in quite this form, is actually one of the best tracks on this collection. It’s almost an early version of the first single from their next single Lights Go Out, which actually turned out to be an exceptionally good track in the end.
Loosetalking is nothing special, another dreary dark synth track which would turn up subsequently as the b-side to their excellent single Zerox Machine early in 2007. Can’t Resist You would later become single Drive, and shows more promise than a lot of its neighbours. It’s discordant and pretty awful, but somehow you can hear something in it.
D.I.S.C.O. would later become Northern Soul, the b-side to subsequent single Lights Go Out. Strangely really, because at least in demo form it’s not bad – it’s a lot better than a lot of the tracks we’ve listened to here. But finally, the best of the bunch is the last one Heartland, the first and title track from their third album. Even in demo form, it has a certain dark melancholy which would be brought out even more on the completed version a year or so later.
Unfortunately, as we now know, this rather dull set of demos would become the backbone of Client‘s third album Heartland, which was, on the whole, nothing special either. Proof, were it needed, that we all need a bit of editorial control here and there if we want to call ourselves professional.
(Fortunately, I don’t.)