Don't be put off by the sight of finger-wagging old man Robert Storey trying to lure you up to his gaff ("Come Up and Hear My Etchings?! Fuck off you dirty old get!) It would be an understatement to say that the cover design/photography here doesn't do justice to the music - which is, by truly ironic contrast, AGELESS and IRRESISTIBLE. Though far from exhaustive - you’d need a box set or ten to harness Storey's recorded flotsam in its entriety - this is certainly a definitive and fantastically digestible retrospective of the UK DIY godhead’s peripatetic career. Plucking jewels from nigh-on 40 years’ worth of CDs, tapes, LPs from various solo and collaborative projects - mostly variations on the floating membership/concept of Murphy Federation / Orchestre Murphy / Murphy Working Stiffs etc etc, but also The Miners of Banal and other more recent one-man-bands and guises - it makes a pretty convincing case for Storey as being among the most effortlessly brilliant songwriters of his generation - so brilliant, in fact, that he didn’t ever bother to seek popularity or acclaim, just buggered on, his songs getting better and better - ever simpler, and ever richer.
A contemporary and frequent collaborator with Bing Selfish and Chris Gray (The Just Measurers, Amos & Sara), Storey has a lot in common with them, but there’s a poise and polish to his work that sets him apart - even when he’s slumming it, which basically he ALWAYS was, he can’t help but bring a certain elegance to proceedings. As with, say, Flaming Tunes or Mick Hobbs’ Officer!, the best Storey songs feel like TRUE post-punk in that they represent a drug-muddled, chronically self-aware but still thoroughly sincere response to exactly the kind of poetic British folk-rock and psychedelia that punk had declared verboten. Anyway. What’s really amazing about this comp, though, is that the newish recordings not only hold their own with the old, but arguably steal the show: by this point, Storey is gifting his compositions to several talented and distinctive female vocalists: Akiko Sato and Tomoko Minamizaki call out to the most potent moments of Les Rallizes Denudes in Murphy No Geisha, while further down the record the duets with Rachel Gardner as Nobodies and Kathy Hulme as C siders nail the minimal indie-pop sublime a la YMG and The Cannanes. Can't believe how undersung Storey is, in the scheme of things. It's impossible to recommend this comp highly enough.