Monday, 11 February 2013

Top 102 Albums. No 52. Tim Rose

Top 102 Albums. No 52. 
Tim Rose - Tim Rose
"I got a loneliness I can't hide
I got a loneliness deep inside
Got a loneliness eatin' away
I got a loneliness it won't go away"

This album has some rather ripe sleeve notes (Tim Rose hits you in the belly. He comes without the trimmings-raw, tough and incredibly straight. His is a brutishly simple sexuality-passion without design. ) and between the note and the front cover  shot which has Rose styled as the bad guy from a Smokey and the Bandit movie or the other guy in a gay western may help explain why it has never had the reputation it deserves.

The most famous songs on the album are Rose's version of Hey, Joe, often cited (somewhat controversially - see clip below and comments) as a huge influence on Hendrix's famous debut. There are also two post-apocalyptic melodramas Morning Dew and Come Away, Melinda. He's big on the aftermath of apocalypses. His cover of Long Time Man is also known to Nick Cave fans as the template for Nick's version.

Rose's impassioned, gravel bed voice soars into the emotional ozone layer and beyond. The backing is restrained and empathic. There is power in the union. (Can I write sleeve notes for the next re-issue?)

I saw him play once in the nineties and we were around twenty years younger than the rest of the audience. A unique experience. He could still cut it and was like Lou Reed's older, funnier, more passionate brother. Or someone who had borrowed Reed's taste in hair anyway.

These are songs of jealousy and braggadocio. But they also undercut themselves with a sense of tragedy and vulnerability. When he sings "I'm gonna be strong"..""And take it like a man" it's only a prelude to when he will "break down and cry". He may look tough but he's an emotional guy.

The versions of Hey Joe, Morning DewCome Away, Melinda and Long Time Man on this album are to my ears definitive. Other versions may exist beside them but I've yet to hear a version that makes these redundant. The other songs on the album sit easily with them.

So we learnt how to destroy life on the very planet we live on. Every cloud has a silver lining. Listen to Morning Dew and Come Away Melinda. Treat yourself to the glorious melodrama of our final end.

Here is a playlist of most of the album. The rest hasn't made it to Youtube yet. 


  1. It's got that classic late 60s rhythm section sound that backed the likes of Tim Buckley to the 'Hair' soundtrack. I'd forgotten what a vocal presence he was; I still remember the hair and gruffness on Jools.

    1. Did you say somewhere that you knew/played with BJ Cole, Trevor? He, and Andy Summers, played with Tim during the seventies.

    2. BJ and Summers? A cracking combo I'm sure.
      Mr Cole played on a few Miracle Mile albums in the late 90s/early 2000s: 'Slow Fade', 'Alaska', 'Stories We Could Tell' and 'Glow'. He's brilliant. We currently use Melvin Duffy on pedal steel who is fantastic too; a totally different style though.
      I remember seeing BJ play for the 1st time way back at the 'Goodbye GLC' concert on the Southbank; The Smiths, Mary Wilson et al were there; BJ was playing with Hank Wangford when the stage was invaded by a load of nazi skinheads who beat the shit out of the band, including BJ; hit over the head by a fascist who picked up his steel guitar (heavier than a table) and brought it down flush in his face. He still bares the vivid scar. The skinheads were later dumped in the Thames by a furious crowd reaction... now that was a gig!

    3. I assume you've heard the good doctor's song about that gig? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pULhSbcMYkw
      I haven't listened to him in ages. The second greatest country parodist (after the Kinkster).

  2. I was at that gig in Whelans. I recall an awestruck BP Fallon timidly proffering this very album for signing. I thought Tim wrote Long Time Man. I'm nearly sure he's credited as such on Your Funeral My Trial...must check.

    1. My understanding is that Tim was credited as writing a lot of stuff where he wrote extra pieces / rearranged the song, and in folk/trad circles it was pretty normal to then claim rights. I've heard a Dylan version of Long Time Man from 1962.
      Wish I'd brought my copy along to get it signed, although it's a reissue on Edsel, not the original, and shorn of one song, King Lonely the Blue, which is not on Youtube either.