Me and my blog

Follow me on Twitter @emma1hartley

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Willows teach a crucial PR lesson at King's Place

The Willows played a late set - 9.45pm - on Saturday at the Kings Place festival this weekend that worked like coffee. Jade Rhiannon is their beautiful lead singer, with a highly distinctive and beguiling voice; there is a charming and eccentric guitarist, Ben Savage, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Rupert Grint; they have a fabulously musical brother and sister banjo and fiddle combo in Cliff and Pru Ward; and an absorbing and upbeat collection of songs that wraps you in a blanket of sonic joy: their four or five part harmony (the drummer, Evan Carson didn't seem to have a mic though I could be wrong) was transcendent. They're the real deal.

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?

Or this?

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.

* If you'd like to receive posts from this blog directly into your Facebook newsfeed, you could *like* its Facebook page and then use the drop-down menu to indicate that it's one of your "interests". This will enhance the possibility that you'll get them. You could also follow me on Twitter at @emma1hartley


  1. The Cook CD appears to be "Trinity Revisited" by Cowboy Junkies and the EMI one seems to be "OK Computer" by Radiohead?

  2. Yesss!! That's amazing. How did you do that?

    1. Simple Google search for Cook CD434 (as shown on the CD) for the first one and the full CD No. for the second (7243 8 5522 9 2 5).

    2. P.S. Putting the CDs in a computer with Windows Media Player should show what they are also.

  3. Yes. I was being slightly lazy and ranty. But thanks very much. You're a very clever and helpful entity, rev x


Emma Hartley blog logo

24hourlondon logo

Did David Hasselhoff End the Cold War?