A select few were able to burn CDs in 1990 but the washing machine-sized technology cost $35,000.


forumusic presents

Private Burns


A review of some interesting self-released / artist CD-Rs


CD burning only really took off in September 1995 when Hewlett-Packard marketed the first CD-R recorder for just under $1000. The rise of MP3s, the World Wide Web and file-sharing in the late 90s quickly rendered CD-R recorders redundant as a new generation learned to burn on their PCs.

Private Burns

Amateur musicians who spent the 1990s mastering MIDI whilst snapping up ever cheaper digital equipment quickly moved from taping demos to burning them. Nowadays musicians float sounds to clouds and Apple don't do disk drives anymore.


Though many amateur musicians cherish the idea of producing a vinyl record, CD-R remains the cheapest format for distributing work physically. Like Music Forum CD Swappers, it means they get the pleasure of designing sleeve art too.


Although 99.9% of Private Burns are dire to listen to the aspiration and heart writ large in the music, artwork and packaging is frequently refreshing and occasionally life-affirming.


Here are some Private Burns we're glad we picked up from charity shops and boot sales in 2013.

Darren Vallier

Darren Vallier

The Story So Far... 

If you have any tolerance for musical theatre then Carpe Diem, and All The Freaks Are Here are the songs to head for. After not quite making it as a rock star, primary school headteacher Darren turned to creating musicals instead.


Some of his productions reached West End theatres and all the tracks on this CD are taken from three of his most successful musicals including the 2001 Their Scarves Were Red which includes an extraordinary song called 96 Reasons Why about the Hillsborough Football tragedy in 1989.


It's written and sung with great sincerity but there's something slightly edgy about this particular musical theatre / tragedy combination.

Paf Le Chien

Fearless Chicken

Track: Boys Rock Girls Rule

Compilation CDs of local bands are always a good punt as competition encourages each band to forward their strongest material. Fearless Chicken - Boys Rock Girls Rule is the winner on here. Billy Idol's White Wedding riff is ripped off and moulded into something far more garage-like as the singer drawls over it in a fashion remarkably similar to an anaesthetized Lou Reed.


Fearless Chicken are still thrashing around the Lake Tahoe region and have a live website with all their songs available for download. The refreshingly raw rock nonsense that is Boys Rock Girls Rule stamped itself onto my amagdyla via ear buds on a Lake Tahoe beach in the summer of 2013.

Fearless Chicken Boys Rock Girls Rule

Paf Le Chien: La Fouine

Track: La Fouine

It looks like a French comedy CD but it's a beautifully produced and energetically performed collection of original French folk songs. My narrow cultural roots limits comparison of this to sounding like Maurice Chevalier on the soundtrack of The Aristocats. Safe to say I loved this CD to bits from the first laser-drop.


It crackles with the energy of musicians entirely at ease with their instruments and sounds relentlessly happy with subtle shades of cheek.


The stand-out track for me is the title track called La Fouine. It zips breathlessly along and ends in a yelping dog impression almost before it's begun. A real joy.

Person People presents

Person People:

Track: A Day In The Life

An archive page from Oregon's BendBulletin reveals the date of Mindscape Points Of View to be around 2004 when Person People were acquiring extra members to make a live show viable.


The standout track A Day In The Life is a glorious stream of consciousness rap nugget laid over a melodic 50s - jazz loop. It's short and cuts off very suddenly so I added the intro to the end as a makeshift outro just to make it a little more satisfying.


Ten years and 6,000 miles away from its place of birth this marvellous 1 minute and 40 seconds of creative energy from Oregon's Person People is tumbling from the stereo and they're killing it.


Lazy Dollies

Track: It's A Funny Old World

'Money, banging our heads against a brick wall.... We were promised a lot of things at the time and you get fed up of them just being promises. We couldn't do it any longer,' said lead songwriter Julian Jones in Exposed magazine.


For ten years they supported 'name' bands but despite support from the likes of Noel Gallagher they never crossed over from local to national success.


Maybe they missed the big time for being in the wrong decade? To Lifes Dreamers is full of great guitar and synth pop that would give plenty of 80s stars a run for their money. The standout on here is the opening track called It's a Funny Old World. It's catchy as hell with a great flourish at the end.

Lazy Dollies


Track: Strange Way Home

From Sale in Manchester StateDancer used to play out regularly as far afield as London and Liverpool.


Gigging and this CD secured them some some admirers on BBC radio. Phil Jupitus aired The Milkman Murders but our winner on this self-titled EP is the excellent Strange Way Home with it's aroma of early Style Council in the melody and arrangement.


Like Weller himself the lead singer struggles a bit in the top register but it adds to the charm of the whole.

A root around the internet gives no clue as to how long they carried on for. At least this Private Burn combined with good old-fashioned gigging earned them a few moments of media attention and Strange Way Home is a damn good three-minute pop song.



Track: It's Not Over Yet

An awesome CD single in an unassuming card cover. Laser-dropping this my ears were assaulted with a frenetic three-minute blast of Rave Rock with a brilliantly catchy chorus. Wikipedia says 'a 4-piece rap rock band based in Leeds West Yorkshire who formed in 2006'... 'It's Not Over Yet is featured on the basketball computer game NBA 2K11 along with tracks by artists such as Snoop Dog and Two Door Cinema Club.


They are so proud of their non-label status they're listed on Discogs as Not On Label (Middleman Self-Released). It's Not Over Yet is breathless and brilliant and copies sit on Discogs at just 99 pence each. Things are volatile, they're close to detonatin'

Instead of walkin' away from the red mist I'm inhalin.'

Zoe Mace

Lewis Taylor

Track: From The Day We Met

Lewis toured with the Edgar Broughton Band in the early 80s, released two albums of Psychedelia in the 80s as Sheriff Jack and released a neo-soul album in 1996 on Island Records.


Out of contract in the early 00s he retreated to a home studio to record and self-release Stoned Part 1. Anyone with a passing interest in blue-eyed psychedelic soul should pick this CD up before the price goes silly. Taylor has a killer voice and writes great songs around it.


When Will I Ever Learn (pt 1) and From The Day We Met (pt2) are yearning soul songs with short bursts of powerful, psychedelic fuzz guitar. Awesome.

Lewis Taylor

Zoë Mace

Track: Hushabye Mountain

Ten year old Zoë Mace entered the Classical Artist chart in 2005 with this CD dedicated to her younger sister Jodie who died after complications following a heart operation. I picked this up from Bungay, Norfolk on the VG+ music forum charity shop challenge earlier this year.


It's all about Hushabye Mountain. Poorly arranged or performed this tune can sound calculated, turgid or mawkish but this version avoids such pitfalls. A perfectly pitched string and piano arrangement by Ben Heaney prefaces the song and with no attempts at indulgent vocal mannerisms to dredge emotion from the tune Zoë delivers an arrow straight lead vocal to devastating effect. Magical stuff.



Track: Sirba

Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe played by professional musicians called klezmorin.


I suspect The Wailing Wall from 1992 was intended for sale at Klezmania! gigs or as a sampler of their musical proficiency to get bookings. From testimonies on their website it appears the band are still playing weddings and Bar Mitzvah's on a regular basis.


Sirba is a maddeningly hypnotic listen with odd orchestral-sounding chord changes reminiscent of ELO or The Beatles. It's a whirling dervish kind of tune and you can't quite figure out just how fast they're going to get.

Murry The Hump

Charlie Cee

Dance With The Devil

This CD was recorded in 2005 and Googling reveals him still wearing the same yellow and red face paint in 2011. In these days of dull conformit it's refreshing to see an artist paying deference to the old school entertainment and pop values of 70s Glam or 80s Kiss-style showmanship.


In real life Charlie Cee is Andrew Cameron and in 2011 he was still chasing his rock dreams as part of a three-man outfit called Devil's Answer.


There are heavy guitar tracks on Dolly Boy including the rifftastic original Dance With The Devil.


Here's hoping Charlie Cee / Devil's Answer are still going strong in 2014 with make-up intact.

Charlie Cee

Murry The Hump

Shag or Kebab?

Like the Lazy Dollies and StateDancer mentioned above, Murry The Hump briefly tasted the limelight between 1999 and 2001 when they were celebrated by the likes of John Peel and Steve Lamacq.


They recorded three sessions for the John Peel show and amongst other plaudits were decribed by Alex James of Blur as the best new band in Britain.


Shag or Kebab? is a blast of cascading guitar riffs punctuated by the salient question Shag or Kebab? and broken in two by stoner guitar stylings. Done and dusted in one minute and a half, if this had been released on 45 in 1976 it would surely have become a sought-after punk anthem.

KC Fracture Flows


Joe Pride

A minor pleasure of Private Burns is searching the internet for information after finding something enjoyable. KC is a man who deserves some kind of success just for the effort he puts into getting his name around. He may well get somewhere too because this CD crackles along with one great idea after another.


The standouts on Fracture Flows Volume 2 are Pumped Up and Joe Pride. Joe Pride has sharp observational lyrics about an ugly couple chained to their material goods. KC hisses the lyrics over a severely chopped up Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy. The internet reveals KC was still going strong in 2011. With the right producer editing his ideas KC could easily write a hit song.

London Street

Phil Haley and his Comments: Last Chance To Boogie!

Be Bop

Sometimes it's just little things that connect. After spinning Last Chance To Boogie! a few times in the car I completely fell for a track called Be Bop.


It's infectious but best of all it has a relentless finger-drumming sound running through it offset by the weediest and saddest-sounding cymbal crashes ever recorded. It sounds like a small biscuit tin being smacked with a tiny hammer.


This is a Phil Haley compilation but the self-penned Be Bop was previously available on PCD EP01. With that self-released qualification Phil Haley and his Comments take their rightful place in this very first pantheon of Private Burns.

Phil Halley and his Comments

London Street


2002's Life Through Lyric and Melody looks like a good candidate for the Forumusic No Hits Required series. It turns out London Street are an incredibly professional girl band who have supported some big name Soul/Rn'B acts in the San Francisco area.


This CD is full of well-written pop songs, sung brightly and well-produced. The opening track called Why? has hit record written all over it until it becomes apparent they are merrily singing stop fu**in' with me in every chorus which I suspect rendered it unplayable on US radio when it came out but makes me love them even more.


London Street were still active in late 2012 with a new EP.

Brett Wales

Brett Wales

Goody Goody

White dress shirt, no bow-tie, collar up. Hair coiffured. All indicators suggest an opera singer but it's much better than that. Brett is a virtuoso organist on a singular path following in the footsteps of one of his personal idols Klaus Wunderlich.


How this one-man 21st century anachronism never found his way to the Vinyl Vulture forum in the early 00s is a mystery that will never be solved.


His unrepentently happy Goody Goody is full-on and slightly camp in the best tradition of Lenny Dee but has light shades of Esquivel in the Zsa Zsa Zoo-ing choruses. Brett is primed and ready to be a minor hero for when the next Easy Listening Revival comes around in about one years time.

Big Al Whittle

Bryonn Bain

All Because Of You

Googling Bryonn reveals he was a law student badly mishandled by law enforcement officers whilst at college and the incident acted as both a catalyst and a catapult to a creative life spent campaigning for equality.


He has created stage shows, appeared in a horror film and as recently as 2011 worked at a University teaching young students about the roots of Spoken Word and Hip Hop.


The standouts for me on here are All Because Of You and Temple Worship. All Because Of You features a singer called Iyeoka whose speaking voice is reminiscent of Gladys Knight or Marlena Shaw interludes.

Bryonn Bain

Big Al Whittle

Haiku Song

Big Al's been a performer, songwriter and guitar teacher all his life and has various accolades from various Folk and Country and Western publications.


Inner sleeve-notes are cool. 'I am interested in gigging but I have to take it easy' and 'To keep costs down I have written a personally signed letter with details of the songs and put it inside.'


Unfortunately my copy of this is missing his letter so I could only listen. There's some solid and sincere songwriting on here buried amidst several humourous tracks. My favourite is Haiku Song, a very simple tune delivered on a soft bed of digital marimba sounds. Big Al is a talented Pentangle--approved performer.

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