The Speed Of Sound: 30th Anniversary Scoop

The 30th Anniversary Scoop CD is available for purchase from the Speed of Sound Website.

The two opening tracks for The Speed Of Sound’s 30th Anniversary collection, The Byrds’ “I See You” and “Seen It All Before,” were previously released as a Big Stir Weekly Digital Single, and you can read our review of those songs here.

What makes the songs on The Speed Of Sound’s 30th Anniversary collection distinctive is that along with the big, bold, twangy and crackling pop sound, there are also a few surprises…some floating, airy psychedelia on “Nightmare,” for starters, and an overall tongue-in-cheek approach to the lyrics in songs like “I Don’t Want Your Attentions” and “I’m Real.” There’s also a nice contrast in styles between the lead vocals of John Armstrong and Ann Marie Crowley.

“I Don’t Want Your Attentions” is a fun, carefree romp through an all-too-common societal foible…the unrequited office romance. Ann Marie blithely and hilariously tosses off the line “Just because you pay my wages, doesn’t mean you can put your hand inside my clothes,” right before a nice, fuzzed-out guitar solo. It’s a serious subject, but our protagonist’s contempt for her clueless wannabe paramour lifts it into the realm of biting satire.

Ann Marie also handles the lead vocals on “I’m Real,” proclaiming “I ain’t no doll, baby I’m real”…it’s a cry for emancipation from objectification, of women as “a walking clothes hanger.”

“Shut All The Clubs” goes for maximum jangle, big drums, and a sound reminiscent of a revved-up Dire Straits.

“Love” retains the overall guitar sound of the album in a slow track that’s rich with harmonies from John and Ann Marie“Make me breathe, make me sigh, make me close my eyes…” This is where the strength of Speed Of Sound fully reveals itself. Separately, the primarily lead vocals from John and Ann Marie work well on their respective songs, but when their voices rise in harmony, there’s a special magic, an undeniable chemistry.

“Girl On The Roof” has more of the Dire Straits vibe, with some exceptional dynamics in John’s vocals…“She’s sittin’ on the ledge, she’s swingin’ her feet…right…now.” An especially cool distorted garage guitar solo hits at the 2:00 mark in a song that crackles with attitude and atmosphere.

“There’s No One There” (live) adds some Richard Thompson / Neil Young & Crazy Horse tension / release to the textures discussed above. It’s a solid, intriguing track.

“I Wanna Feel Good” ends the album on a high note…a glorious blast of the loud, chip-on-the-shoulder sneer of Lords of the Garage like The Seeds and The Sonics.

The album is a must-have for music lovers who don’t want the full story revealed in the first couple of tracks. This one will keep you guessing as John and Ann Marie don their various masks and run with scissors across their sonic landscape.

The following are John Armstrong’s notes for the album:

The single of I’m Real has a fade ending, this is the whole recording (vinyl 45) not available elsewhere
The single of Shut All The Clubs is a different mix to the album version (vinyl 45)
The single (vinyl 45) versions of Girl On The Roof and Maid Of The Grey are both completely different recordings those on the Everything Changes album
There are several recordings of Checkered Land, this one has a video but wasn’t released previously as audio
The live version of There’s No One There is… live… not previously released
Nightmare and I Wanna Feel Good are both from the first EP…