This is a vinyl reissue for the cd best of for The Hit Parade that came out in 2012 is compiled from the bands recordings for Sarah Records, Minty Fresh and other labels. The Hit Parade formed in 1984 and were a vehicle for Julian Henry to put his words to songs alongside school friends Raymond Watts and Matt Moffatt and along the way they roped in Cath Carroll, Amelia Fletcher and Harvey Williams to add a little gold dust to the music.
The a-side opens with The First Time a gorgeous slice of chamber pop about that moment when your eyes meet for the first time and feel that jolt of mutual attraction and figure out how to make sure you kiss for the first time, how that feels, this is evocative of innocence and hope that this really will be a love for the ages.
You Didn't Love Me Then is a pretty slice of jangly indie pop magic for someone whose heart you won but by the time they wanted to return the favor you'd already moved on.
The Boy Who Loves Brighter is pretty as a picture indie tune that re-works the Suicide is Painless M.A.S.H. theme tune into a very laid back and beautiful song of love and gentle yearning, with Amelia Fletcher's backing vocals adding a layer of wonder to the song as he tries to figure out why he lives alone.
In Gunnersbury Park celebrates that West London Park and how the park has remained unchanged for so many years, as he sits and waits for you in the park once more, seemingly stalking you in the most gentle way possible, seemingly this didn't happen during the Mela, as we wonder why the object of his desire was taken away on that day, he waits for your return some fine day.
The Sun Shines In Gerrards Cross would be perfect to hear on a day with blue skies and sunshine as you drive down the A40 towards Gerrards Cross in the early evening, the keyboards add a sense of poignancy as green fields and old pubs help make this a luscious song for Berkshire.
The House Of Sarah is a Macarthur park style spoken word epiphany with lush orchestration and beautifully poetic eulogy to Sarah who is no longer at home sadly, this could easily be a love letter to Sarah Records and the other bands bands The members of the Hit Parade have been involved in, as well as epistle of love.
They then leave the western reaches of London and go down to Cornwall for the Queen Of Mousehole into that picturesque fishing village deep in Kernow, past Penzance, where she must preside over the Stitch and Bitch club and everything else in her domain.
Huevos Mexicana tells a tale of having eggs for Breakfast on the beach, with sun dappled Mexican infused jangle pop guitars, as they spin a line or two to catch that girl and to eat some more Burritos.
On The Road To Beaconsfield has them going home and namechecking most of the local pubs, apart from The Bell Inn, seemingly and still in love with that girl from Gerrards Cross, this celebrates his home town almost as a continuation of John Otways song the A413 (Revisited) and Ayelsbury , so this is a song about the other end of the A 413 where it meets the A 40 on the way to Beaconsfield.
Sugar is as sweet a song as the title suggests although he wants to take you all the way down the A40 to Oxford this time this is lush high end Sugar work.
Hitomi is about going on tour to Japan and a love affair with Hitomi a most welcoming of hosts. My Favourite Girl is another glossy and glistening slice of bright upbeat indie pop for the love of his life or the girl he wants to be that love.
Hello Hannah Hello is yet another perfect girl that left him for pastures new, with no signs he has any clue why she left him, if the tune wasn't so lush and beautiful, with hints of the Blow Monkeys and Danny Wilson it could easily be creepy, but really if Hannah heard this I'm sure she'd be very happy to be eulogized so beautifully.
Autobiography is as far from the John Cale song of the same name as you could get, this is graceful, elegant chamber pop for a lover in search of the perfect match no matter how brief his actual affairs are, the angelic backing vocals, just want to get hold of you, how could you resist. This ends the album as beautifully as any song could.
Find out more at https://opticnerverecordings.bandcamp.com/album/pick-of-the-pops-vol-1