There’s a wonderfully apocryphal tale recalled on the sleeve notes of this compilation of jangle pop tunes. Apparently the head of Rickenbacker, a certain Mr Francis C Hall, discovered that The Beatles would be staying at the Hilton Hotel in New York on their debut trip to the US. So he set up a stand in the hotel’s hall and sure enough George Harrison and John Lennon were intrigued by the twelve string guitar and its sonic possibilities.
The rest is as they say history. For without that Hilton encounter there would be no Byrds no REM, no Smiths no Church and certainly not this compilation.
Beautifully put together by You Are The Cosmos Records, Twelve String High is a stunning testament to the rude health of jangle pop. There are artists here from across the globe, from The Outryders in Australia to Coke Belda from Spain and obviously lots from both the US and the UK.
And another thing about the tracks included here is that many are exclusives or tracks that are tucked away on obscure bits of vinyl. You won’t find too much of this on Spotify.
Standouts? Well sides one and two of the four disc set are outstanding, Erik Voeks kicks things off in classic power pop style with She Loved Her Jangle Pop from his excellent So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away reviewed here. Also on side one are Leicester’s finest The Junipers with And In My Dream – a glorious Revolver-esque moment that they recorded between their two last albums and might just be their finest three minutes.
If anything side two is even stronger. Opening moment It’s Hard For Me To Say by The Parson Red Heads is a glorious slice of gentle Americana with a delicate melody and divine middle section. Tracks from the UK’s Kontiki Suite and Hanging Stars are highlights from their excellent recent albums, and then there’s the finale, Lotta Lies by Elvyn from Canada, which has a wonderful chorus embellished by some of the richest harmonies on the album.
Track for track sides three and our aren’t quite the equal of the first two – the diversity of the first record is lost a bit as Beatley and garagey tunes come to the fore. Nevertheless there are still plenty of gems including Tired of Running an sprightly slice of power pop from Sweden’s Arvidson and Butterflies and the garagey Squires/Dovers sound of One Is Not And One Is Real from The Higher State.
Twelve string high is a lovely package too and those sleeve notes are ideal for non-musicians to find out why so many of their favorite guitarists love the Rickenbacker sound.
If you love power pop, The Byrds, REM or just jangly guitars and harmonies this is essential.
Here’s hoping that YATC Records are already working on volume two.
And here’s a quick playlist of some of the bands as well as a few contenders for volume two