mon 15/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: David Westlake - D87 | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: David Westlake - D87

Music Reissues Weekly: David Westlake - D87

Welcome return of 1987’s Creation Records mini-album ‘Westlake’

The briefly solo David Westlake in a live setting

Becoming reacquainted with what was originally titled Westlake in 1987 is a pleasure. Yes, at his own measured pace, David Westlake has issued great albums since then and his Eighties and Nineties band The Servants have been the subject of various archive releases. It is not as though he has vanished. But any reminder of his flair as a songwriter is welcome.

Originally a mini-LP, Westlake is now retitled D87, resequenced, appended by four tracks recorded for a contemporaneous BBC session and a couple of previously unheard demos. The augmented reissue doesn’t use the original sleeve image but has been packaged to look akin to the NME cassette C86. Despite The Servants’ presence on C86, pegging the reissue thus seems limiting as what he was doing wasn’t defined by any such tag.

David Westlake_D87The six tracks on Westlake are as they were in 1987: shimmering, fairly pacey, guitar-driven compositions roughly in the same headspace as Peter Astor when he was with The Weather Prophets – literate, reflective guitar pop with odd hints of Lou Reed but English. Some of Felt isn’t too far, and “Dream Come True” has a little of The Monochrome Set’s “Love Goes Down the Drain.” There is also a kinship with The Go-Betweens. Lyrics are sensitively observational, but with a detachment. Very assured and tremendous.

When the mini-LP was issued, The Servants recently had fallen apart. The solo venture and the liaison with Creation Records were, however, short lived. In 1987, Westlake arrived between the first couple of singles from The Servants and their return to the new release racks in 1989.

David Westlake_Westlake 1987 sleeve_Luke Haines, who plays on Westlake, goes into this in his affectionate note written for the reissue. It seems the plan was not to continue with a solo venture, but to take stock while finding what would hopefully be a permanent Servants – of which Haines would be part. (pictured left, the original 1987 sleeve image of Westlake)

For this solo interregnum, Haines had arrived via an NME ad. Westlake though needed more than a guitarist to record, so he recruited additional musicians from bands he liked and respected. On Westlake, the bassist is Martyn Casey and the drummer is Alsy MacDonald, both from The Triffids. On the terrific early 1987 Janice Long session heard here, he is accompanied by, with the exception of Grant McLennan, the entire Go-Betweens. All of which is a remarkable testament to how his contemporaries saw Westlake. As is that Haines and the post-Westlake Servants bassist Alice Readman moved on to The Auteurs. Why Creation didn’t pick up The Servants – they ended up on another label – after Westlake remains an unanswered question.

While the David Westlake of this period was firing on all cylinders, Westlake was never going to click as it was a way station on the way to a reactivated Servants. A wayward approach to marketing maybe, but as Haines says “David Westlake albums are like rare orchids. You should grasp them to your heart when they arrive.” The sentiment applies as much to this reissue as it does to anything new released by David Westlake.


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