Monday, October 5, 2009
The Twelve Tasks of ToffeeBoy #10 – Shack (including The Pale Fountains and The Strands
One of the main aims of this series of ‘Spill posts has been to seek answers to the question, ‘Why is it that the music I like so much is so criminally undeRRepresented?’ None of the acts that I’ve featured had appeared on the A-List more than once when the series began – a few have now reached the heady heights of two (and in one case, three) appearances, so perhaps I’m having some effect.
Anyway, I was shocked to the very core on consulting the wonderful Marconium this morning to discover that the subject of this month’s task has a sum total of ‘nul points’ and I would like to submit to the ‘Spill jury that this is an utter disgrace and an insult to two of the greatest songwriters ever to walk the streets of this fine country of ours. The brothers Head (Michael and John) have been making music together since the early 1980s and I would argue (with anyone!) that their output is at least the equal of any act working today. Their first single (as The Pale Fountains) came out way back in 1982 and everything they’ve done since (in various guises but mainly as Shack) has been released to almost universal critical acclaim.
There have been problems along the way (drugs, fires in recording studios and lack of commercial success to name but three) but they have continued, for over a quarter of a century, to produce music of the highest quality. Thoughtful lyrics, simple, yet not simplistic, melodies, and (although I have to admit I’ve never seen them live myself) stunning, energetic live shows have been the hallmark of their career to date - and there’s no sign of a let up. Their latest album … The Corner of Miles and Gil (namechecking two of the Head brothers’ musical heroes Miles Davis and Gil Evans) was as good as any they’ve released to date.
One of the things that I love about Shack, is that they sing in their native Liverpudlian - just listen to the opening lines of The Girl With The Long Brown Hair to see what I mean. It's a refreshing change from the all-too-prevalent mid-Atlantic twang. They are also, as far as I'm aware, the only band to have released two consecutive albums whose title start with an elipsis. How cool is that???
Now, as with the last Task of ToffeeBoy, it’s nice to know in advance that I have at least one fellow fan on the ‘Spill – DarceysDad, take a bow – and I’m hopeful that we can convert a few more of you on the way. Our mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have a Shack track on the A-List by the end of the year.
OK. If you buy just one Shack album, let it be … Here’s Tom With The Weather. DarceysDad would say, let it be HMS Fable and to be honest I wouldn’t be too upset if you went that way instead. Personally, I prefer the former but I have to say that Fable features some of my favourite Shack songs (Comedy with its opening line ‘Oh the awful title belies the quality, of this unusual comedy’ is an absolute standout).
Thank You – The Pale Fountains
Crazier – The Pale Fountains
Jeans Not Happening – The Pale Fountains
John Kline – Shack
Who Killed Clayton Square? - Shack
Neighbours – Shack
X Hits The Spot – Michael Head & The Strands
Comedy – Shack
Natalie’s Party – Shack
The Girl With The Long Brown Hair – Shack
Carousel – Shack
Miles Away - Shack
More music at the particular request of DarceysDad
Glynys & Jaqui - Michael Head & The Strands
Streets Of Kenny - Shack
Pull Together - Shack
Cup Of Tea - Shack
Even more music at the peculiar request of Shoegazer
Meant To Be - Shack
Just two tasks to go now and then Zeus grants me something - Gods know what - it was such a long time ago that I accepted the challenge that probably only Abahachi can enlighten us now ...