“I cannot feel anything, save the tips of my fingers”: Brad – Shame (20th Anniversary reissue; Razor & Tie – 2013)

Interiors was the first Brad album I heard.  That was 1997.  A friend had bought it due to the Pearl Jam connection.  I’ll be honest, I just didn’t really like it.  I don’t really know what it was exactly, but it did nothing for me.  Perhaps it was the setting when I first heard it.  I really don’t know.  Coincidentally, I spotted a copy of Shame a few weeks later for a couple of pounds.  I picked it up, as I hadn’t seen it before and, well, I thought the front cover was ace (that was one of the qualifying criteria for buying albums back then.  In fact, it’s still one of the criteria today).

From the first note of Buttercup I was hooked.  It’s a very different album to Interiors.  More spacious and loose and, well, that ‘jammy’ feel really set it apart from the other stuff that I was into at the time.  The lyrics, vocals and music just becoming one.  Really is perfect.  It became a firm favourite and I was preaching Brad to the converted (my buddy wondered what had changed and was likely thinking “you’re a bit late on the Brad bus” when I was pushing Shame on him and telling him it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard!*).  After a while I reassessed Interiors and got to like that a Helluva lot also.  Over the years, though, Shame has been an album that has stuck with me for whatever reason.  I also ended up exploring Shawn Smith’s catalogue off the back of my love for the album.  Discovering Pigeonhed, Satchel (whose complete works, in my opinion, surpasses Brad’s) and his solo work.  In fact, what Shame does incredibly well is marry the obscure groove of both those bands while bringing something of it’s own (see 20th Century).

Like most of my favourite albums, I’d been intending to track this down on vinyl.  I had done so, but again it was at a price I wasn’t willing to pay.  Last year Razor & Tie reissued it, so again it meant there was an alternative to the expensive original copy.  This week I finally got my hands on it.  It’s a really wonderful sounding record.  It really is.  You can hear the space.  If that makes sense.  All the truly remarkable things about the album are highlighted.  Ten fold.  You can literally hear the instruments breathe during Buttercup and the shift in sound when My Fingers kicks in is just incredible.  As a record, Side A has got to be one of the very best sides of music I have ever heard.

The vinyl comes in a nice bright orange gatefold package.  Loads o’ nice ‘new’ old pictures and the the original cover tucked away inside.  It’s one worth getting your hands on.  An overlooked gem.  It really is.  One of the finest records from the 90s.

*I’ve never actually found out what his favourite Brad album is.  I must follow this up!

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