Graham Reid | | 2 min read
About 36 years after its original release Martin Phillipps get to include the Chills debut album Brave Words – by the addition of Spoken Bravely in the reissue's title – into his SB family alongside Submarine Bells, Soft Bomb, Sunburnt, Silver Bullets, Snow Bound and Scatterbrain.
When Brave Words was released on Flying Nun in 1987 it was much praised for Philipps songwriting but disappointingly sprung no hits. The main criticism (by Phillipps and most critics) was that the production by Mayo Thompson (of Red Krayola, Pere Ubu) was muddy and undistinguished.
It languished with three star reviews and comments that they were a singles band (after their run of early classics collected on the earlier compilation Kaleidoscope World) who hadn't made the leap to a fully-fledged album.
That might have been a little unfair because -- as even the album's most trenchant critics acknowledged -- there were some damn fine songs there, among them Push, 16 Heart-Throbs, House With 100 Rooms and Wet Blanket.
Now remastered to Phillipps' satisfaction songs like Rain and Look For the Good appear in more explosive form and lost gems (Night of Chill Blue, the jangling Wet Blanket, the Celtic sway of the intense Ghost) are given polish.
As Phillipps recently noted, “I have always felt we'd buried a lot of the real performance from that Chills line-up beneath too much Eighties reverb and then the mastering did us no favours… The arrival of producer Greg Haver who we had worked with on our 2018 album, Snow Bound, not only understood what we were hoping to achieve but had actually recorded at the Point Studios in the Eighties -- so he knew the layout, the desk, the microphones and so on.”
This newly remastered and mixed edition features additional rarities and unreleased tracks and comes in a new cover by Phillipps referencing the original with additional liner notes.
Not a lost masterpiece but certainly an album which, in this edition, warrants very serious attention and rewards with enjoyment.
The Brave Words reissue arrives at the same time as the reissued/remastered and expanded edition of the '86 Kaleidoscope World collection, a compilation which was indicative of Phillipps' broad vision.
Here are the title track's psychedelic dream-pop; the joyous jangle of Rolling Moon; the psychic darkland of Pink Frost and cathartic I Love My Leather Jacket; an excitable version of Oncoming Day
All these and many more: demos, B-sides and live tracks.
Kaleidoscope World (remastered)
The Chills are still very much a going concern – more visible and successful in the past two decades than they were in the first flush – but this reminds you of what a craftsman was right from the start.
Both are available on double vinyl also.