Their second album, Amidst Fiery Skies, is from a place where folk and bluegrass cohabit and has immediately taken up a residency on my multi-disk CD player. But it was interesting to hear about the problem they had with their first album. "We didn't put the name of the band on the cover," explained Savage. "Our PR went nuts when she found out: apparently that's a PR disaster. Rumour has it we'd be HUGE if we'd put our name on the cover."
It (above) was called Beneath Our Humble Soil, they have taken to using stickers bearing their name to compensate, and the absence of most of the salient information from the CD cover didn't stop it picking up some very nice reviews, from Bob Harris and Mike Harding among others.
Nonetheless it got me thinking because I have a related problem with CDs and it's do with the basics: there is a large-ish collection of CD covers in my front room that have become separated from their disks, and while some of it is due to negligence and enthusiasm (playing stuff to people without taking the trouble to replace CDs toward the end of the evening) there is a handful that I have been unable to match with their covers because the CDs have no information whatsoever on them. For instance, can anyone put a name to this - rather beautiful - orphan?
It has a doodle of two large-headed humanoids and was apparently produced by Parlaphone - who should probably know better - but I'm having no luck finding its cover. This means that unless it's instantly recognisable when I play it - though it'll be hard to find a reason to do so since I don't know what it is - it's going to languish in a kind of musical no-man's land for the forseeable future.
It crossed my mind that in the case of The Willows, the missing name on the cover could have been misplaced modesty, which is something one comes across quite a lot among folkies and frequently ties in with an anti-capitalist ambivalence about being better known (good) and making money (not entirely the point). Also there is often no one who thinks of their actual job as being to check this stuff at cottage-industry-sized labels.
However, I spend a large amount of time making sure that all the basic information is present in newspaper stories and feel qualified to suggest that there are very few circumstances in which it is inappropriate to fully label one's output. And if in doubt, do it again: no one will complain.
Here's something else by The Willows to make up for my hectoring tone, which is certainly connected with annoyance about futile attempts to de-clutter The Glamour Cave.
* If you liked this post you may also be interested in reading this post about Rodney Branigan, who deserves more attention than he gets.
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