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2023/4 Albums Thing 272 - Amsterdam “The Curse”

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Another on eout of order buut Amsterdam’s 2002 2nd album fits with yesterday's post. Originally self released by the band as a CD-r it finally got the vinyl re-issue treatment in 2023, again courtesy of Kitchen Disco Records. Notable in the extreme for the first appearance of what has become Ian Prowse’ defining song, “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside”.

Possibly the most surprising thing about this album for those that (quite rightly) equate the band name Amsterdam with Ian Prowse is that he doesn’t sing the first two songs on this record. For “Brigitte” (the cover star of the original release was Brigitte Bardot) and “The Glorious Day” (yes, the same “Glorious Day” that would later show up on the album “The Journey”, this time sung by Prowsey) the lead vocals come courtesy of guitarist/flautist Genevieve Mort. As do “The Gangster”, “You Are My Lover”, “You Know You Wanna Be Like Us”…that’s right, almost 50% of an “Ian Prowse” album not sung by Ian Prowse.

As with yesterday’s “This Time Next year” there is some “recycling” happening on on this album. “The Glorious Day” is a “tribute”, shall we call it, to a Billy Bragg song (“The Warmest Room” https://youtu.be/KACiGzpUi7Y?si=YcIcH3iLole9j5nm) with different lyrics…I’m sure with The Bard’s blessing. ”Our Leader” begins with a snippet of (what I know as Gaelic folk song) “The Mingulay Boat Song” with new words too and the backing vocals on “Hatred Is Wasted” owe more than a big thank you to Mink DeVille’s “Spanish Stroll”. None of this is a criticism, I’m just pointing it out. Knowing Ian Prowse as a big Springsteen fan it can’t be a coincidence that “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside” has a ring of “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street” about its title.

“The Curse” in hindsight (a wonderful thing huh?) feels like a step to somewhere else rather than being a “proper” album (although I’m sure at the time the band felt very differently). A lot of these songs we will meet again, some very soon. “You Are My Lover” resurfaced with a Prowsey vocal on Amsterdam’s album “Arm In Arm” and of course “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside”, “John”, “The Gangster”, “The Glorious Day” and “A Curse” were all included on Amsterdam’s next (proper) release “The Journey”. I’m not having a dig here, these were songs that didn’t really get a wide audience on “The Curse” as it was a self released album so when the band got a deal for the release of “The Journey” on an Indie label why not give these songs a fighting chance to get heard ?

Ian Prowse is one of our great songwriters and performers, he really should be much more widely heralded for his and his bands talents. This is a step along the way to records we will come to shortly and some of the best live shows I’ve seen in the last 20 years. If you haven’t already, go lend him an ear.

Our Leader - https://youtu.be/pHoC5qNyqdw?si=8h2hexSBdhyFn08j

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