The Door And The Window And Perfect Harmony

Having set myself up, on apostrophe watch, I expected someone at least to raise the eternal issue of Dexys Midnight Runners. Or to recall the legend of Shena Mackay's short story, 'The Worlds Smallest Unicorn', and how the publishers got scared and inserted an apostrophe in the title of the book, thus missing the whole point of the tale.

Anyway, we can report that Soul Jazz have their own inevitable apostrophe catastrophes on the sleevenotes to their Joe Gibbs Productions set. But it's a predictably pleasant collection, and the more people that hear Culture's Two Sevens Clash the better, so we'll let them off.

Better still in all ways is Kent's In Perfect Harmony - Sweet Soul Groups 1968 - 77, which is absolutely wonderful. If you have ever melted to the gorgeous sounds of the Impressions, the Stylistics, Chi Lites, and any similar outfit with impeccable harmonies, totally over-the-top stage suits, nifty choreographed routines, and songs that make you want to hug your soul, then this set is a must. And as the compilation is made up of acts like the Smith Connection, the Reggie Sadler Revue, the Silent Majority, the Mayberry Movement, and the LTG Exchange, then the chances are that the tracks will be brand new to you, and a real revelation.

Full marks must go too to John Ridley for his impeccable, scholarly sleevenotes. So, once again Kent has done what they have done so well for over 20 years now, and created a soul collection that is as aesthetically pleasing in its way as the original 7' treasures.

I doubt if anyone will commend Overground Records in quite the same way, but over the years they have salvaged some treasures too (ATV, Subway Sect, Richard Hell, June Brides ...). The latest release is a collection of recordings by The Door And The Window, which is an unexpected treat.

If you ever get the feeling that things are too tasteful, and want a set of songs that could be called somewhat astringent or something of an irritant, then Detailed Twang by The Door And The Window comes highly recommended. To put it briefly, two lads Nag and Bendle were inspired by the punk thing and the way some brave souls like the Desperate Bicycles, Television Personalities, Scritti Politti, Swell Maps, ATV, The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire completely demystified and politicised the act of making pop music and producing records.

The message was that anyone could get involved in pop, and the sad thing was that all sorts of idiots did. The Door And The Window took things to extremes, and genuinely set about making music and performing shows without knowing how to play instruments in any conventional sense. If this annoyed people then that just added to the fun. The irony is that along the way they just happened to produce the basic outlines of some great pop songs.

After the trials and tribulations of Alternative TV metamorphosing into the Good Missionaries, Mark Perry took some time away from the frontline, and sat in on the drums with The Door And The Window. It is the recordings he made with the group that are collected here, and it's worth confessing that it was Perry's involvement back at the start of the 80s that attracted me to TDATW. Well, they still sound great, and when everything starts sounding too smooth and polished, these will be a real treat. I really did not raise an eyebrow at listening to this racket in my teens, and I stand by it completely.

And they may have set out to flout every rule in the book, but at least they respect what apostrophes are for!

© 2003 John Carney