I’d like to talk for a little while today about a subject very dear to my heart – Life’s (and more specifically music’s) great under-achievers.
Britain’s musical history is absolutely littered with them, fabulous acts who shone briefly then faded, or in some cases never really shone at all.
The Bible for example presented us with some of the very finest singles and albums (2 No.) of the 1980s. Critical acclaim – tick, major mainstream success – no tick.
Success also evaded The Pale Fountains. Tremendous singles, enjoyable albums (also 2 No.), negligible acclaim.
Our cassette experiment subject today is the second and last album from another bunch who deserved to have the world at their feet, but despite a little more success than The Bible and The Pale Fountains, barely merit a mention when the lists of great acts and albums are regularly trotted out by those supposedly in the know.
Armed with a slightly worrying penchant for berets and, like many other acts of the time, guilty of being more than a little under the influence of Steely Dan, Danny Wilson released in 1989 one of the greatest under-achieving albums of the era, ‘Bebop Moptop’.
The album kicks off with the sound of rainfall (or possibly frying bacon) before breaking into a number that wouldn’t be out of place in a big Hollywood musical (and I mean that as a compliment) ‘Imaginary girl’. One of the best ‘side 1’s’ of the 80s continues with the best-known track on the album ‘The second summer of love’. My favourite though is side 1 track 4 ‘If you really love me (let me go)’ a beautiful track with similar sentiment to Sting’s ‘If you love somebody set them free’ but with the added bonus that this one won’t make you throw up.
Side 1 concludes with the epic yet wonderfully claustrophobic ‘Loneliness’.
Inevitably side 2 doesn’t quite reach the heights of its over-achieving brother with the most notable tunes being ‘Never gonna be the same’ and ‘N.Y.C. Shanty’ a track vaguely reminiscent of one of my favourite 70s under-achievers, Sailor. (Please don’t laugh, I’m being deadly serious here!).
Danny Wilson were tremendous live, and when we saw them at Newcastle University they were supported by an act who we will feature within the next few days – The Indian Givers.
A cassette by the aforementioned Sailor might be about to creep up on us too!
Label – Virgin
Year - 1989