Angel Air 2016
Famous British sound sculptor offers a final instalment of his fringe catalogue.
Seven years down the line from its predecessor, this disc could have been a barrel-scraping effort if it wasn’t so consistent quality-wise, despite the mostly non-familiar names on display. Focused for the most part on MOR, now the standout tracks are those that Mike Hurst had a hand in writing of, while covers such as Billy Fury’s barrelhouse take on “(Hi-De-Ho) That Old Sweet Roll” or an attempt to glamorize “Wild Thing” by FANCY firmly remain in the sweet early ’70s pocket. FINGERTIPS’ cheerfully delicate “Anyone You Want Me To Be” may be a prime example of the period’s light side, but the song’s title is also a possible motto for the producer’s method of bringing out the best in artists he worked with, and the same goes for his own projects, as suggested by 1969’s “Wednesday’s Child” – credited to MIKE HURST ORCHESTRA – which, drenched in strings, had emerged like a space-era answer to Strauss’ waltzes.
There are more inroads into unexpected territories, THE CYMBALINE’s “Top Girl” sounding as deceptively innocent as 1966’s surf pieces do these days, and THE HUMAN INSTINCT’s “Pink Dawn” leaving a psychedelic trail, whereas Terry Mace’s “Love Receiver” from the tail end of the next decade has an angular new-wave bounce to its riff and chorus, and THE BACHELORS camp up “Save The Last Dance For Me” for the age of disco. Yet Hurst-composed “Keep It Up” which GILLY MASON BAND cut in 1975 retains its punchy funk and “Two Wheels” that Mike and guitarist Ray Fenwick co-penned for FIREBIRD aggrandizes its driving groove by adding glorious brass to the track’s middle section. As a result, even though the producer can’t recall who some of his charges were, a few of his last archival excavations are very memorable – no less than the hits Mike Hurst logged into charts – so it was worth it to scrape those barrels.