The Records 

The Records/Shades in Bed

The history of rock 'n' roll is rich with "almost-was" and "should-have-been" stories -- bands or solo performers who had the right sound at the wrong time, got the bad breaks or blew the good ones, and/or possessed great musical chemistry but zero personal chemistry. One such story was that of the Records, a British power-pop band of the new-wave era (1977-82) who made some great music but never quite took off. Remembered mainly for its minor hit "Starry Eyes," the band had witty and heartfelt songs that still sound way-cool.

Whether you're a fan from back-when or a devotee of contemporary power-pop (Matthew Sweet, Tommy Keene, et al.), this collection will be essential. It combines the entire first album plus the contents of a limited edition EP, plus the usual extra goodies.

For the uninitiated, the Records sang with a quality of sharp, irony-free tartness, offering captivatingly smooth harmonies à la Hollies, Beach Boys, and Elf Power. The guitars had that shiny Rickenbacker jangle, but they also had a fluid, twin-lead harmony style that recalled, of all people, the Allman Brothers in their early-'70s heyday. No matter how sweet the catchy melodies were, the band always remembered to rock in a snappy and direct way, without wretched excess or high-handed attitude.

Maybe that's part of the reason the Records didn't make a bigger splash. They were too odd and retro-pop for the mainstream crowd and at the same time too unrebellious, too refined and professional-sounding for the punk scene. Now that we as a society have advanced beyond those primitive days, perhaps it's the time for the Records to receive their due. Don't miss 'em this time around.

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