By Andrew Fisher (Merman on the old Turin Brakes forum)
In writing about the 10th anniversary of The Optimist LP’s release, the first place to start is where and when I got the CD. It was actually early the next year when I bought it, from the MVC shop in Coventry while I was there visiting my brother. I had heard the band performing on the Jo Whiley show and really enjoyed the live performance of Mind over Money. It was also the big sticker on the front, saying “Mercury Prize Nominee”.
For those who don’t know, the Mercury (named after a mobile telephone company that no longer exists) picks a shortlist of the best British albums released in the previous year. It has gained as much notoriety for picking unusual and less mainstream acts as it has for the consistent quality. But from my point of view, most years I pick up albums that are on the shortlist – because getting nominated is a good sign of quality.
And as for MVC, that no longer exists either. It was a High Street record store, but it was unusual. You could get a membership card, which gave you a good discount on the standard price. However, with increasing competition from the Internet and other retailers, MVC is no more.
But most of all, the songs will stay with me for a long time. Personal highlights include Feeling Oblivion, and the moment when I saw it played live in 2003 at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Olly turned to the audience after the first couple of songs – tracks from the newly released Ether Song album that we greeted with hushed enthusiasm – and said, “You’re allowed to sing along”. And so we did, with great gusto. It’s that sort of moment that endears Turin Brakes to me.
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