Two days ago I learned of the death of Bill Elliott, singer and one half of the duo Splinter. I consider Splinter’s album Harder to Live to be among the top ten albums in my collection. What criteria do I use to rank an album within the top ten of the hundreds and hundreds I own? One reason is its irresistible playing factor: when the needle drops I cannot bring myself to listen to just one or two songs. I must play the album all the way through. The entire album is a masterpiece of songs, and Harder to Live has been a favourite of mine for forty years. When I read the news of Elliott’s death I was struck with such sudden sadness. He gave me such listening joy for decades. How often I would bounce around to the songs on this album and sing along at all hours of the night. Sadly, the Splinter albums have never found North American release on CD. I was delighted to find their 1980 LP, simply titled Splinter, in a Cape Town record shop four years ago. That album travelled with me to Tristan da Cunha.
As a collector of Apple Records I also knew of Elliott as the singer of “God Save Us”, a one-off single by the Elastic OZ Band. The song was written by John and Yoko as a fundraiser for the OZ magazine obscenity trial.
I have long thought of writing about my favourite albums and also my favourite album covers. It’s not as if this idea has remained solely in my mind, as I have prepared rough drafts of each of these album topics already. I have procrastinated posting them because I still want to do a thorough all-albums review to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything. I want to get it right the first time and not have to constantly edit my posts with late additions. However, if one were to ask me to name, immediately, one of my favourite albums in my vast collection, Harder to Live would be one of them.
I own the UK version of Harder to Live. Bill Elliott is on the left.
Bill Elliott, mistakenly credited as Elliot on the 45 label.