Paul Hillery / Once Again We Are The Children Of The Sun / BBE – By Balearic Mike

Wonderful words by Balearic Mike.

Just over a year ago the first volume in this superb series arrived, like a bolt from the blue… and now, almost exactly a year later, and not only am I now a fully paid-up member of the Paul Hillery Fan Club, but the man has managed to put together and release 3 of the finest compilation albums that I own – and I own a lot – in just over 12 months. For comparison’s sake, it has taken Kelvin Andrews and I 13 years to only manage to release 2 volumes of our “Down To The Sea And Back” compilation series…

I’m sure you’re all pretty eager to know if this latest installment lives up to the incredible standards set by the previous volume, and Paul’s other venture into the world of compilations, Folk Funk & Trippy Troubadours. Well, I’m quite delighted to be able to say that not only does it match those records, but it actually might be the best so far. I know! How has the fucker managed that we all ask! I’d be really annoyed if I wasn’t so happy!

I’m going to skip through just a few highlights here, as just as with the first volume there`s a fantastic amount of music here, and I can’t possibly do it all justice. Suffice to say that the album comes flying out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, but funky, folky, and Balearic, sounding, with the wonderful opening track from Will & James Ragar, As The Day Grows Tired – a slice of sun-baked acoustic folk-funk, whose vocal harmonies remind you of Crosby Stills & Nash, but with an almost Latin, bossa nova feel to it. This is a phenomenal opener, and a total future Balearic classic. Hailing from their sole 1980 self-titled album, the current starting price on Discogs for an OG is 369 quid. I know this because, yes, of course, I thought “This is wonderful. I might buy an original.Oh, no you won’t Mike!

Side A closes with another beautiful flute-led acoustic number, this time from Cunningham Corner. Their Free And Easy is another lost Laurel Canyon masterpiece – but by a 5 piece from Colorado – which moves up into a sort of jazz-instrumental. There aren’t any copies of this for sale on Discogs, but his perfect piece of music was originally split over both sides of a 45, but is now beautifully edited together for the first time as one continuous track – the Disco Maxi 12” that never was. Perhaps you’re starting to get the full picture of what sort of territory we’re now in. I feel a bit faint.

On side B, after some Swedish disco sleaze, and a jazz-funk instrumental from Cologne, we close with the haunting Varela and Come And Take Me By The Hand – a slice of music from late `70s New York, which sounds like something from the `60s British psychedelic folk scene, but bathed in a wash of ominous synthesizers. Beautiful.

Racing on, side C ends with Darrell John’s Write Your Lucky Number – a kind of ambient-folk-jazz jewel, that recalls Pat Metheny’s floatier, Balearic moments. It’s just jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and from another £300+ private press LP you will never, ever, find.

UK duo Orion give us the marvelous Moonshine, from their debut 1987 LP. This is the kind of slightly gothic psyche-folk you might find on some rare re-discovery on the Finders Keepers Records label. I think it’s the use of the melodeon that creates such an incredible atmosphere. Imagine Dead Can Dance covering The Wicker Man soundtrack, and you’re close.

I’ve played The Greg Foat Group’s Milk And Honey on my last two 1 BTN radio shows. Again, it has a kind of psyche-folk vibe, but with a rock-hard library music style break-beat funk twist. It’s a stunning track, brand new, and appearing on vinyl for the first time.

I’m going to close my “little” pocket-sized review with the track that I used to open my last radio show. Aria Rostami’s Golden Hour is a wonderful, atmospheric, ambient-acoustic affair. Recorded at home in Brooklyn during the COVID lockdown of 2020 when he should have been getting married, and released as on cassette in a limited edition of 100. A beautiful Balearic sunset of a record.

Every tune included on the comp is equally worthy of your time, and the quality of the music collected really is quite staggering. It’s easy in these days of instant online access to the entire history of recorded music, to think that there really can’t be much else out there to discover, especially, personally, after all these years listening, and digging for the black gold… but then a piece of painstakingly curated musical archaeology like this turns up and you are reminded of what patent bollocks that idea really is. The deeper you dig with music, the more you realise that your own wealth of musical knowledge can only ever be the tip of a gargantuan iceberg, and it’s nice of people like Paul Hillery to put in the hard graft to remind us all of that once in a while.

Paul Hillery`s Once Again We Are Children Of The Sun is out now on BBE. 

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For more from Balearic Mike you can find him on both Facebook and Instagram – @balearicmike. 

Mike has a Mixcloud page packed with magnificent, magical, music, and you can catch him live on 1BTN, from 12 noon until 2 (UK time) every 1st and 3rd Friday.

Balearic Mike 1BTN

You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print


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