I was kinda half-watching some movie on AMC (I think) last week. I really don't even remember what it was, being more absorbed with what was likely a computer game or something. So at the end of the movie, the credits rolled and this faintly recognizable music caught my ear. I had to pause whatever I was doing and actually pay attention. Seriously, this one was buried deep down in my brain and it took me a few minutes to dig it out and it was....Virginia Astley's A Summer Long Since Passed, from her 1986 album, Hope In A Darkened Heart.
I initially discovered this album in a roundabout way. I liked Ryuichi Sakamoto a lot (I even got his autograph a few years ago!) and he produced most of the album. At the time, Astley was compared to Kate Bush, whom I adore (you already knew that), so that was kind of a no-brainer. Also, I had read her name previously as she contributed the piano on Pete Townshend's single, Slit Skirts. His album, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, was another one of my favorites at the time. So I bought her album based on all these factors and it was like being rewarded for faith. And I don't think I've ever met anybody else who likes this album or even has heard of it. I'm not trying to out-obscure anyone, it's just one of those albums that might seem like it should attract more fans. Everybody knows of an album like that, this happens to be one of mine.
Also, David Sylvian appears on the track, Some Small Hope. He was a pretty big name at the time as he was in the group, Japan, and eventually started off what is now a long solo career. I knew a few peeps who were into him, but I really only know of him by name alone.
I spent many a night listening to this album, and falling asleep to it. The vocals might be too precious for some people, but I think her voice is lovely. The production is a bit dated, you can tell it's an 80s album, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. So back to last week. I hear this song on the telly and when the recognition hits, it's like WOW! I hadn't heard that in forever. I used to have it on vinyl, but all of my vinyl was stolen years ago. I poked around on the net to see if I can pick up a copy, but the prices are retarded import prices. I figured I didn't even have a chance of downloading it anywheres, but I finally found it. It's been so nice rediscovering this album.
I just had a look around and it seems she's still sorta active, although her site, virginiaastley.com, appears not to have been updated in nearly a year. Interesting. So here are a couple tracks; the first is A Summer Long Since Passed, which is the one that inspired this post. It totally sounds like a fading summer, silhouetted figures running on a hillside, a girl on a swing. I love the wistful feeling it conjures up. The second is called So Like Dorian, which is a sweet sounding, but venomous ode to her lover whom she no longer likes. My favorite part is when she sings, "I've heard all your lies, your boring tall tales/I've tasted your tongue like a worm from the grave/Had you inside me and then like a rock beside me". Jeez, I'd hate to be THAT guy.
Virginia Astley > A Summer Long Since Passed
Virginia Astley > So Like Dorian