There are times when hidden tracks at the start of albums can be rather annoying. Lemon Jelly‘s second studio album ’64-’95 is one such example – released exactly a decade ago this week, I only found out about the hidden track Yes! a matter of weeks ago.
Even more frustratingly, it also helps make a lot more sense of the 25 second opener It Was…, which had always perplexed me somewhat. It’s the same vocalist, reminiscing about times gone by, and if you hadn’t found it yet, the secret is to rewind a minute or so before the beginning of track 1.
If you don’t have the gatefold edition of the CD, that won’t help you much either, as I gather it’s only included on this impeccably packaged limited edition version. As with both of the previous albums (2002’s brilliant Lost Horizons and the preceding compilation Lemonjelly.ky) the original release came in a lovely mini-LP package no doubt inspired by the 10″ singles and releases in denim packaging with which they started their career.
By this point, the wonderful first track ’88, or Come Down on Me is well under way. It’s a rock-inspired piece, with few vocals but a beautiful mood, and it blends perfectly into the second proper track Only Time. Each piece has a year associated with it, and this is represented by ’68, making it a very soft reminiscence, with echoes of some of the pieces on their previous albums.
Two – or three – albums in, Lemon Jelly were still evolving, and finding their sound. Apparently some were disappointed by the harsher sound of this album, but they really only have their own preconceptions to blame for this – Lost Horizons is a unique masterpiece, it’s true, but so is ’64-’95 in its own way too.
Don’t Stop Now (’93) is a brilliant, churning, piece, which is reminiscent of some of the deeper and darker dance tracks of the early-to-mid-1990s, and that’s followed by a trio of singles – firstly the lovely ’95, or Make Things Right, which is another of the gentler pieces on the album, and then The Shouty Track (’79), which, perhaps unsurprisingly given the name, is very much of a contrast.
By far the best song on the album is the adorable Stay with You (’75), which blends eclectic and bizarre influences in the absolutely perfect way that Lemon Jelly were really known for. It somehow manages to be both huge and tiny, catchy and drifting, and really very good indeed.
The lovely ’76, a.k.a. The Slow Train follows, with a heady mix of gospel and blues influences, plodding along like the slow train in the title for nearly six minutes. Repetition and rhythm is definitely a theme here, continued with ’90 (A Man Like Me), which, while still very sweet, is probably one of the less exciting tracks on here.
Finally, the album comes to a close with the earliest dated song, ’64, or Go, featuring the actual actor William Shatner as its guest vocalist. Somewhat reminiscent of the more cheerful Ramlin’ Man from their previous album, Go seems to tell the story of someone who has travelled a little too much in their lifetime, and maybe got a bit lost en route. It’s another wonderful track, and a perfect closer.
’64-’95 is a great album – a fantastic one, in fact, but it’s a very great shame that this week marks an entire decade since the last time Lemon Jelly released anything. Hopefully they’ll be back soon to pick things up again where they left off.
You can still find ’64-’95 in all major retailers, but try to make sure you get the right version.