on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2015 31 Mai

Lost classic #13: Song.

von: Ian McCartney Filed under: Blog | TB | 7 Comments

It would take a long time to find the quote verbatim. It’s on a CD inlay card. Despite being mega-Zen and forever pushing forward to own as few objects as possible – other than coins, jeans (Lee or Levi’s), shoes, shirt, jumper, coat, etc. and Android phone/tablet – there’s too many CDs to go through.
The CD in question is A Letter From St. Paul by The Silencers, and the CD inlay, in tiny print, somewhere, says „God made Calum Malcolm and then got scared“. I may be paraphrasing (I hope not). The gist of the quote being that Calum Malcolm is the kind of genius whose genius is so genius that it’s beyond fucking genius.
I wouldn’t go that far, myself. I’d go a few light miles further. Any work I’ve heard by this producer has no producer footprint, no auteur vibe – for auteur vibe is always auteur manqué vibe in the final analysis. How could it be otherwise? Any work I’ve heard by artists who worked with this producer is the work itself, except worlds better than it would have been with any other mind working the magic of the production.
Yeah. So where was I, again? Yes, Song (Produced by … ?) This was (I think) the second LP by It’s Immaterial. A Liverpool band. Liverpool, the city in England whose name must surely be familiar if you’re a fan of its greatest band ever: The Royal Family and the Poor, whose prescient pop groove shakes the world to this day. Lovely Liverpool. A city I don’t visit often enough, a city that has never lost its magic. Other Liverpool greats: The Strands, Echo & The Bunnymen, and – how could I forget – Half Man Half Biscuit.
Song was produced by Calum Malcolm and released sometime in the late 80s. Possibly on an associated Virgin label. Branson’s labels always cooked up good releases in good indie fashion, but because their distribution was major label, it meant that they fell between two stools (indie/major) and into a magical limbo where you have a) no fifth gear A&R drive and b) no indie underdog kudos. Sometimes, the best place for genius is a space beyond print reviews, culture politics and mainstream FM radio.
Sample lyrics:
Track one, An Ordinary Life: „From the shore to the station, blinds are down … people say the place is slowly dying, there’s not a sound … in New Brighton when it rains. New Brighton in the rain“. (If you want an idea of the New Brighton the lyric references, check out this clip (fast forward to exactly 4 minutes and 59 seconds in.)

Track two, Endless Holiday: „Bye. I watch you from the drive. Enjoy your work is the last thing I say. You wish for Friday, well I glance up and down the road before returning to the home to put the breakfast things away…“ (A surreal song in the best way, this composition addresses redundancy from a moneyed viewpoint in Thatcher’s England – this is the dole queue’s real obverse, and by omission it shouts, silently, about dignity. What a song.)

Track four, Heaven Knows: „Do you wake up at night, feel that you’re sliding beyond the reach of all your dreams? You’ve still got me to confide in…“. Social realism would portray the protagonists here as hollow by highlighting the scurf of their existence: an Audi and a newbuild and the lawn. This song goes deeper – it makes audible the inner voices of the upwardly mobile in a catastrophic recession. The song offers no hope other than the hope of the central character: „Things are gonna work out fine. Into every life, a little rain must fall“. Using a cliche like this, melodicising it to humanise it. I wonder how it worked out for the character/souls of this deep recession night song. I bet they’re not standing outside Lime Street railway station begging for coins.

Track 9, New Brighton: „Is that what money amounts to, a house on the hill, ugly and new? Is that what money amounts to? The house on the hill, hugging the view?“. More genius. Track one is about New Brighton but isn’t titled New Brighton. This one is. It’s a Jorge Luis Borges self meets self vibe. Time travel in the present, forked pasts. The prosperous timeline self meets the so-so self. The celtic bagpipe sounds at the start of the song bring to mind the seafaring novels of Joseph Conrad. Borges, Conrad, bodies of water. Who wins? It’s immaterial. Maybe Calum Malcom wins – you get so far into this LP you forget that people had to go into a studio and make the fucker.


This entry was posted on Sonntag, 31. Mai 2015 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Lajla nizinski:

    Working Heroes never die. Here we have one. They are so close to the Kinks. But different the song “ New Brighton.“ I listened to it several times. The song takes you out with the tide. „Home coming“ bring’s you back. No matter whether your hometown looks like a container of poor huts. It’s home.

  2. Ian M:

    I never thought of The Kinks, but that is an interesting comparison – I an see it in the characterisation and storytelling.

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Refering to the „New Brighton-passage“ – the Michael Head documentary is interesting from start to end: another „Lost Classic“ (possibly, I only heared one great song of it) will be reissued soon: The Magical World of The Strands… (See Uncut, edition of July 2015)

  4. Ian M:

    That Strands album is amazing.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    News spread:

    ‘The Olde World’ is released on 29 June, followed by a reissue of ‘The Magical World of the Strands’ on 13 July, both on Megaphone, digitally, on CD and vinyl.

    The version of this song on 1997’s ‘The Magical World of the Strands’ was an acoustic rough mix. This full band version feels like lifting a veil, uncovering all the hidden tracks from the original recording.

    ‘It’s Harvest Time’ is the first track on ‘The Olde World’ listen on Souncloud here

    2015 is a busy year for Michael Head

    His second record as ‘Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band’ has just been released on his own label, Violette – ‘Velvets in the Dark’ 7 inch single. Shack’s 1990 single ‘I Know You Well’ opens ‘Perfect Motion’, Jon Savage’s 2LP compilation as “a musical return-trip to these fondly remembered years spanning 1988-93”.

    Plus, Megaphone is set to release both ‘The Magical World of The Strands’ in its original form with a new extensive booklet, and ‘The Olde World’ as an exclusive new album of recordings from the same sessions. Last but not least, Michael plans his first gigs as ‘Michael Head & The Strands’ promising to play his classic album ‘The Magical World of The Strands’ in full.

    After a couple of demos for the French promoter who paired him with his childhood hero Love’s Arthur Lee in 1992, Pale Fountains and Shack legend Michael Head entered a Liverpool recording studio the following year, with a new project in mind, ‘The Strands’. Michael teamed up with his brother and lifelong companion, John, his long-time drummer Iain Templeton and two new recruits, Michelle Brown on bass and Les Roberts on flute.

  6. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Michael Head & The Strands – The Prize

    That song made my day.

  7. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I just ordered SONG. Listened to ten minutes on youtube and then i said to myself: how great that i’m far away from enzoclopediac (yo know what i mean)

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