K’s Choice, The City Of Music Two. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

The humble compilation album can take many forms. In now what seems at times the dim and distant past, as distant to the younger generation coming through now as Sir Edmund Hilary’s and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Everest to those growing up in the 1970s, the past when to have your say in music meant taking the pick of the songs you may have proudly bought or even embarrassingly hidden away due to the absurdity of the song and placed onto a C90 tape and perhaps even then handed over with much ceremony to the person you perhaps fancied, the compilation stood for something pure.

Then along comes the idea of placing all the songs onto a record, placing a pig on the front of it and proclaiming along the lines of that’s what they called music and millions bought into it. Songs that had no relevance to each other except that they sold well over a six month period and was a sure way to sell an album if they were all stitched together in some sort of patchwork quilt affair. A quilt that may have been solid but was sore on the senses and meant that at some point there was bound to be music on there the listener had to walk back to the turntable and run the risk of scratching an extra unintended groove into the record.

Compilations can and normally should be avoided, unless you have made them yourselves or they are of the quality that the likes of Liverpool’s Ian Prowse put together.

Yet hurtling from behind the badly drawn Pig’s ear comes the next instalment of K’s Choice, the wonderfully assorted and sourced, The City of Music II and it’s as every bit as good as the first set of songs that found their way on the C.D.

If there is any way in which to improve a set of recordings made by some of the most inspiring and superb acoustic musicians that the undoubted continuing Capital of Culture has somehow managed to harness, then surely the only way is to have more artists and their songs on the album. From an album that held 25 musicians, the only logical step was to go bigger and better with 34 tracks, an abundance of talent that it’s almost too overwhelming in its appreciation.

With many outstanding contributions from such artists as Hannah Kewn, Gary Gardner, the outstanding former University of Liverpool student Alexandra Jayne, Iain Till, Vanessa Murray, Thom Morecroft, Millie Courtney, Bootle’s Billy Kelly, the amazing Eleanor Nelly, Simon Cousins and Tiki Black, the album is a dream to listen to because it has so much going for it. Not only is the album full of great musician’s putting down songs for future prosperity, the type that the Sixties would have loved to have had playing week in week out and have Mersey Beat enthusing over, but it stands out because this concentration of musicians have kept the city of Liverpool entranced no matter which venue they have played in the last few years.

From Alexandra Jayne’s and Thom Morecroft’s cracking appearances at Zanzibar, Vanessa Murray’s playing at Studio 2 or the soulful and beautiful voice of Tiki Black astounding all at St. Luke’s Church, all the artists have offered the city they are from, or proudly have called home, the sense of continuation, of a soul being reassured that live music might struggle in other places in the U.K., however in Liverpool it thrives.

If only compilations had been as good as this during the 70s and 80s, there might not have been any need to spend hours putting together a mix tape, for nothing screams love more than listening to K’s Choice: The City of Music II.

Ian D. Hall