Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Best of Aztec Camera (1999)

Originally issued in Japan in 1999 (and later in the U.K. in 2001), The Best of Aztec Camera is an excellent overview of Roddy Frame's songwriting vehicle, collecting 16 tracks from throughout the group's history (up through 1993's Dreamland). The 1983 debut, High Land, Hard Rain, remains the best introduction to Aztec Camera's brand of witty, sophisticated, jazzy pop, but anyone wanting to dig deeper is easily advised to come here next.
For most intents and purposes, Aztec Camera is Roddy Frame, a Scottish guitarist/vocalist/songwriter. Several other musicians have passed through the band over the years — including founding members Campbell Owens (bass) and Dave Mulholland (drums) — but the one constant has been Frame. Throughout his career, he has created a sophisticated, lush, and nearly jazzy acoustic-oriented guitar pop, relying on gentle melodies and clever wordplay inspired by Elvis Costello.

Aztec Camera released their debut album, High Land, Hard Rain, in 1983. Before its release, Owens and Mulholland had left the group, leaving Frame to assemble the record himself. Upon its release, the album won significant amounts of critical praise for its well-crafted, multi-layered pop. After releasing a stop-gap EP, Oblivious, the group's second full-length record, Knife, appeared in 1984. Produced by Mark Knopfler, the album was more polished and immediate than the debut, featuring horn arrangements and a slight R&B influence. Three years later, Roddy Frame returned with Love, which featured musical support from several studio musicians. Love was a synthesized stab at pop-R&B, resulting in his greatest commercial success — the album launched four hit singles, including the Top Ten "Somewhere in My Heart."

Two years later, Aztec Camera returned to a more guitar-oriented sound with Stray. It wasn't as commercially successful as Love, yet it was a hit with fans who missed the chiming hooks of Frame's early work. Dreamland, released in 1993, followed the same pattern as Stray and achieved about the same amount of commercial and critical success.

The Best of Aztec Camera
Rody Frame(v),Campbell Owens(b),Dave Mulholland(d)

Track listing:

1. "Somewhere in My Heart" (4:02)
2. "Oblivious" (3:12)
3. "Good Morning Britain" (4:02)
4. "Working in a Goldmine" (5:42)
5. "How Men Are" (3:40)
6. "Birth of the True" (2:42)
7. "Pillar to Post" (4:01)
8. "Walk Out to Winter" (3:25)
9. "All I Need Is Everything" (5:50)
10. "Deep and Wide and Tall" (4:05)
11. "Jump" (2:50)
12. "Killermont Street" (3:18)
13. "The Crying Scene" (3:35)
14. "Spanish Horses" (4:36)
15. "Reason for Living" (3:17)
16. "We Could Send Letters" (5:45)

17. "Down The Dip"
18. "The Boy Wonders"
19. "Just Like The USA"
20. "Still On Fire"
21. "The Backdoor To Heaven
22. "One and One"
23. "Get Outta London"
24. "How It Is"
25. "The Gentle Kind"
26. "True Colors"
27. "Somewhere In My Heart (Extended)"


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